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Title: Franklin's Autobiography - (Eclectic English Classics)
Author: Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Franklin's Autobiography - (Eclectic English Classics)" ***







  Copyright, 1896 and 1910, by


  W. P. 12


When Franklin was born, in 1706, Queen Anne was on the English throne,
and Swift and Defoe were pamphleteering. The one had not yet written
"Gulliver's Travels," nor the other "Robinson Crusoe;" neither had
Addison and Steele and other wits of Anne's reign begun the
"Spectator." Pope was eighteen years old.

At that time ships bringing news, food and raiment, and laws and
governors to the ten colonies of America, ran grave chances of falling
into the hands of the pirates who infested the waters of the shores.
In Boston Cotton Mather was persecuting witches. There were no stage
coaches in the land,--merely a bridle path led from New York to
Philadelphia,--and a printing press throughout the colonies was a

Only six years before Franklin's birth, the first newspaper report for
the first newspaper in the country was written on the death of Captain
Kidd and six of his companions near Boston, when the editor of the
"News-Letter" told the story of the hanging of the pirates, detailing
the exhortations and prayers and their taking-off. Franklin links us
to another world of action.

His boyhood in Boston was a stern beginning of the habit of hard work
and rigid economy which marked the man. For a year he went to the
Latin Grammar School on School Street, but left off at the age of ten
to help his father in making soap and candles. He persisted in showing
such "bookish inclination," however, that at twelve his father
apprenticed him to learn the printer's trade. At seventeen he ran off
to Philadelphia and there began his independent career.

In the main he led such a life as the maxims of "Poor Richard"[1]
enjoin. The pages of the Autobiography show few deviations from such a
course. He felt the need of school training and set to work to educate
himself. He had an untiring industry, and love of the approval of his
neighbor; and he knew that more things fail through want of care than
want of knowledge. His practical imagination was continually forming
projects; and, fortunately for the world, his great physical strength
and activity were always setting his ideas in motion. He was
human-hearted, and this strong sympathy of his, along with his
strength and zeal and "projecting head" (as Defoe calls such a
spirit), devised much that helped life to amenity and comfort. In
politics he had the outlook of the self-reliant colonist whose
devotion to the mother institutions of England was finally alienated
by the excesses of a power which thought itself all-powerful.

In this Autobiography Franklin tells of his own life to the year 1757,
when he went to England to support the petition of the legislature
against Penn's sons. The grievance of the colonists was a very
considerable one, for the proprietaries claimed that taxes should not
be levied upon a tract greater than the whole State of Pennsylvania.

Franklin was received in England with applause. His experiments in
electricity and his inventions had made him known, and the sayings of
"Poor Richard" were already in the mouths of the people. But he
waited nearly three years before he could obtain a hearing for the
matter for which he had crossed the sea.

During the delay he visited the ancient home of his family, and made
the acquaintance of men of mark, receiving also that degree of Doctor
of Civil Law by which he came to be known as Dr. Franklin. In this
time, too, he found how prejudiced was the common English estimate of
the value of the colonies. He wrote Lord Kames in 1760, after the
defeat of the French in Canada: "No one can more sincerely rejoice
than I do on the reduction of Canada; and this is not merely as I am a
colonist, but as I am a Briton. I have long been of opinion that the
_foundations of the future grandeur and stability of the British
empire lie in America_; and though, like other foundations, they are
low and little now, they are, nevertheless, broad and strong enough to
support the greatest political structure that human wisdom ever yet
erected. I am, therefore, by no means for restoring Canada. If we keep
it all the country from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi will in
another century be filled with British people. Britain itself will
become vastly more populous by the immense increase of its commerce;
the Atlantic sea will be covered with your trading ships; and your
naval power, thence continually increasing, will extend your influence
round the whole globe and awe the world!... But I refrain, for I see
you begin to think my notions extravagant, and look upon them as the
ravings of a madman."

At last Franklin won the king's signature to a bill by the terms of
which the surveyed lands of the proprietaries should be assessed, and,
his business accomplished, he returned to Philadelphia. "You require
my history," he wrote to Lord Kames, "from the time I yet sail for
America. I left England about the end of August, 1762, in company
with ten sail of merchant ships, under a convoy of a man-of-war. We
had a pleasant passage to Madeira.... Here we furnished ourselves with
fresh provisions, and refreshments of all kinds; and, after a few
days, proceeded on our voyage, running southward until we got into the
trade winds, and then with them westward till we drew near the coast
of America. The weather was so favorable that there were few days in
which we could not visit from ship to ship, dining with each other and
on board of the man-of-war; which made the time pass agreeably, much
more so than when one goes in a single ship; for this was like
traveling in a moving village, with all one's neighbors about one.

"On the 1st of November I arrived safe and well at my own home, after
an absence of near six years, found my wife and daughter well,--the
latter grown quite a woman, with many amiable accomplishments acquired
in my absence,--and my friends as hearty and affectionate as ever,
with whom my house was filled for many days to congratulate me on my
return. I had been chosen yearly during my absence to represent the
city of Philadelphia in our Provincial Assembly; and on my appearance
in the House, they voted me three thousand pounds sterling for my
services in England, and their thanks, delivered by the Speaker. In
February following, my son arrived with my new daughter; for, with my
consent and approbation, he married, soon after I left England, a very
agreeable West India lady, with whom he is very happy. I accompanied
him to his government [New Jersey], where he met with the kindest
reception from the people of all ranks, and has lived with them ever
since in the greatest harmony. A river only parts that province and
ours, and his residence is within seventeen miles of me, so that we
frequently see each other.

"In the spring of 1763 I set out on a tour through all the northern
colonies to inspect and regulate the post offices in the several
provinces. In this journey I spent the summer, traveled about sixteen
hundred miles, and did not get home till the beginning of November.
The Assembly sitting through the following winter, and warm disputes
arising between them and the governor, I became wholly engaged in
public affairs; for, besides my duty as an Assemblyman, I had another
trust to execute, that of being one of the commissioners appointed by
law to dispose of the public money appropriated to the raising and
paying an army to act against the Indians and defend the frontiers.
And then, in December, we had two insurrections of the back
inhabitants of our province.... Governor Penn made my house for some
time his headquarters, and did everything by my advice; so that for
about forty-eight hours I was a very great man, as I had been once
some years before, in a time of public danger.[2]

"But the fighting face we put on and the reasoning we used with the
insurgents ... having turned them back and restored quiet to the city,
I became a less man than ever; for I had by this transaction made
myself many enemies among the populace; and the governor, ... thinking
it a favorable opportunity, joined the whole weight of the proprietary
interest to get me out of the Assembly; which was accordingly effected
at the last election by a majority of about twenty-five in four
thousand voters. The House, however, when they met in October,
approved of the resolutions taken, while I was Speaker, of petitioning
the Crown for a change of government, and requested me to return to
England to prosecute that petition; which service I accordingly
undertook, and embarked at the beginning of November last, being
accompanied to the ship, sixteen miles, by a cavalcade of three
hundred of my friends, who filled our sails with their good wishes,
and I arrived in thirty days at London."

Instead of giving his efforts to the proposed change of government
Franklin found greater duties. The debt which England had incurred
during the war with the French in Canada she now looked to the
colonists for aid in removing. At home taxes were levied by every
device. The whole country was in distress and laborers starving. In
the colonies there was the thrift that comes from narrowest means; but
the people refused to answer parliamentary levies and claimed that
they would lay their own taxes through their own legislatures. They
resisted so successfully the enforcement of the Stamp Act that
Parliament began to discuss its repeal. At this juncture Franklin was
examined before the Commons in regard to the results of the act.

     _Q._ Do you not think the people of America would submit to pay
     the stamp duty if it was moderated?

     _A._ No, never, unless compelled by force of arms....

     _Q._ What was the temper of America toward Great Britain before
     the year 1763?[3]

      _A._ The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the
     government of the Crown, and paid, in their courts, obedience to
     the acts of Parliament. Numerous as the people are in the several
     old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons,
     or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this
     country at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper; they
     were led by a thread. They had not only a respect but an affection
     for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs and manners, and even
     a fondness for its fashions that greatly increased the commerce.
     Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; to
     be an "Old England man" was, of itself, a character of some
     respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.

     _Q._ And what is their temper now?

     _A._ Oh, very much altered....

     _Q._ If the Stamp Act should be repealed, would it induce the
     assemblies of America to acknowledge the right of Parliament to
     tax them, and would they erase their resolutions?

     _A._ No, never.

     _Q._ Are there no means of obliging them to erase those

     _A._ None that I know of; they will never do it unless compelled
     by force of arms.

     _Q._ Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?

     _A._ No power, how great soever, can force men to change their

     _Q._ What used to be the pride of the Americans?

     _A._ To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.

     _Q._ What is now their pride?

     _A._ To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new

After the repeal of the act, Franklin wrote to his wife: "I am willing
you should have a new gown, which you may suppose I did not send
sooner as I knew you would not like to be finer than your neighbors
unless in a gown of your own spinning. Had the trade between the two
countries totally ceased, it was a comfort to me to recollect that I
had once been clothed from head to foot in woolen and linen of my
wife's manufacture, that I never was prouder of any dress in my life,
and that she and her daughter might do it again if it was necessary."

Franklin stayed ten years in England. In 1774 he presented to the king
the petition of the first Continental Congress, in which the
petitioners, who protested their loyalty to Great Britain, claimed the
right of taxing themselves. But, finding this and other efforts at
adjustment of little avail, he returned to Philadelphia in May, 1775.
On the 5th of July he wrote to Mr. Strahan, an old friend in London:
"You are a member of Parliament, and one of that majority which has
doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns and
murder our people. Look upon your hands; they are stained with the
blood of your relations! You and I were long friends; you are now my
enemy, and I am yours."

After the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the
States as a nation, Franklin was chosen as representative to France.
"I am old and good for nothing," he said, when told of the choice,
"but, as the storekeepers say of their remnants of cloth, I am but a
fag-end; you may have me for what you please."

It was a most important post. France was the ancient enemy of England,
and the contingent of men and aid of money which Franklin gained served
to the successful issue of the Revolution. He lived while in France at
Passy, near Paris, from which he wrote to a friend in England: "You are
too early ... in calling me rebel; you should wait for the event which
will determine whether it is a rebellion or only a revolution.... I know
you wish you could see me; but, as you cannot, I will describe myself to
you. Figure me in your mind as jolly as formerly, and as strong and
hearty, only a few years older; very plainly dressed, wearing my thin,
gray, straight hair, that peeps out under my only coiffure, a fine fur
cap which comes down my forehead almost to my spectacles. Think how this
must appear among the powdered heads of Paris! I wish every lady and
gentleman in France would only be so obliging as to follow my fashion,
comb their own heads as I do mine, dismiss their friseurs, and pay me
half the money they pay to them."

At last, in 1785, he came home, old and broken in health. He was
chosen president, or governor, of Pennsylvania, and the faith of the
people in his wisdom made him delegate to the convention which framed
the Constitution in 1787. He died in 1790, and was buried by his wife
in the graveyard of Christ Church, Philadelphia.

The epitaph which he had written when a printer was not put upon his





    (Like the cover of an old book,
    Its contents torn out,
    And stript of its lettering and gilding,)
    Lies here, food for worms.
    But the work shall not be lost,
    For it will (as he believed) appear once more
    In a new and elegant edition,
    Revised and corrected
    The Author.

[Footnote 1: See pp. 198-206.]

[Footnote 2: The time of Braddock's defeat.]

[Footnote 3: When the old duties "upon all rum, spirits, molasses,
syrups, sugar," etc., were renewed, and extended to other articles.]



    TWYFORD,[4] _at the Bishop of St. Asaph's, 1771_.

Dear Son:[5] 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.

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 favorable. But
though this were denied, I should still accept the offer. Since such a
repetition is not to be expected, the next thing 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 any one 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. 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 may 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.

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 led 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,[n] 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, namely,
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.

Thomas was bred a smith under his father; but, being ingenious, and
encouraged in learning (as all my brothers were) by an Esquire[7]
Palmer, then the principal gentleman in that parish, he qualified
himself for the business of scrivener;[8] 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, Jan. 6, old style,[9] 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."[10]

John was bred a dyer, I believe, of woolens. 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, in manuscript, 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.[11] He
had formed a shorthand of his own, which he taught me, but, never
practicing 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 shorthand, 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 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
above fifty years since. There are many of his notes in the margins.

This obscure family of ours was early in the Reformation, and
continued Protestants through the reign of Queen Mary,[12] when they
were sometimes in danger of trouble on account of their zeal against
the queen's religion. 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.[13] 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 II.'s reign, when some of the ministers that had been outed
for nonconformity,[14] holding conventicles in Northamptonshire,
Benjamin and Josiah adhered to them, and so continued all their lives;
the rest of the family remained with the Episcopal Church.

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.[15] 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, in his Church history
of that country entitled "Magnalia Christi Americana," as "a goodly
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 homespun verse of that time and people, and addressed to those
then concerned in the government there. It was in favor of liberty of
conscience, and in behalf of the Baptists, Quakers, and other
sectaries that had been under persecution,[16] 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 libeler [says he]
    I hate it with my heart;
    From Sherburne[17] town, where now I dwell,
      My name I do put here;
    Without offense your real friend,
      It is Peter Folgier."[18]

My elder brothers were all put apprentices to different trades. I was
put to the grammar school[19] at eight years of age, my father intending
to devote me, as the tithe 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 shorthand volumes of sermons, I suppose as a
stock to set up with, if I would learn his character.[20] 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, further, 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 mean time, 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 afterward 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 soap 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 mold and the molds for cast candles,[21] attending the shop,
going of errands, etc.

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, learned 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, though 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,[22] 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 public 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 brought 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. I never knew either
my father or mother to have any sickness but that of which they died,
he at eighty-nine and she at eighty-five years of age. They lie buried
together at Boston, where I some years since placed a marble[23] over
their grave with this inscription:

    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
    and brought up thirteen children
    and seven grandchildren
    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[24] 89.
    A. F. born 1667, died 1752, ---- 85.

By my rambling digressions I perceive myself to be grown old. I used
to write more methodically. But one does not dress for private company
as for a public 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, brasiers,[25] 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 learned 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.

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[26] books, and
cheap, forty or fifty 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.

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[27] 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[28] ballad style; 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.

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 each other; which
disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit,[n]
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 Edinburgh.

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 each other 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. He observed that, though I had the advantage of my
antagonist in correct spelling and pointing (which I owed 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."[29] 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, tried to complete 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 complete the
paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts. By
comparing my work afterward 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 or 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, though I could not, as it seemed to me, afford
time to practice it.

When about sixteen 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 refusal 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 biscuit 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 ashamed of my
ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at
school, I took Cocker's book of arithmetic, 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 the Human Understanding," and the "Art of
Thinking," by Messrs. du Port Royal.[30]

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 method;[31]
and soon after I procured Xenophon's "Memorable Things of Socrates,"
wherein there are many instances of the same method. I was charmed
with it, adopted it, dropped 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, practiced 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 continued 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 saying, "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 every one 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 fixed 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 says judiciously:

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

further recommending to us to

    "Speak, though 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."[32]

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.

My brother had, in 1720 or 1721, begun to print a newspaper. It was the
second that appeared in America, and was called the "New England
Courant."[33] 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 through the streets to the customers.

He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amused themselves by
writing little pieces for this paper, which gained 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 called 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 esteemed them.

Encouraged, however, by this, I wrote and conveyed in the same way to
the press several more papers, which were equally approved; and I kept
my secret till my small fund of sense for such performances was pretty
well exhausted, and then I discovered[34] 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 demeaned[35] me too much in some he required 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 extremely 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.

One of the pieces in our newspaper, on some political point which I
have now forgotten, gave offense to the Assembly.[36] He was taken up,
censured, and imprisoned for a month, by the Speaker's warrant, I
suppose, because he would not discover his author. I, too, was taken
up and examined before the council; but, though 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
satire. My brother's discharge was accompanied 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 returned 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[37] 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-natured 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 refused 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 inclined 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 stayed, soon bring
myself into scrapes; and, further, that my indiscreet disputations
about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people
as an infidel or atheist. I determined 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 that had got into trouble, and
therefore I could not appear or come away publicly. 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
three hundred miles from home, a boy of but seventeen, without the
least recommendation to, or knowledge of, any person in the place, and
with very little money in my pocket.

[Footnote 4: A village near Winchester, Hampshire, England, where Dr.
Jonathan Shipley had his country house. Dr. Shipley was Bishop of St.
Asaph's in Wales, and Franklin's friend.]

[Footnote 5: Franklin's only living son, William, who in 1762 had been
made royal governor of New Jersey, with the hope of detaching Franklin
from the cause of the colonists.]

[Footnote 6: A franklin was a freeman, or freeholder, or owner of the
land on which he dwelt. The franklins were by their possessions fitted
for becoming sheriffs, knights, etc. After the Norman Conquest, men in
England took, in addition to the first name, another which was
suggested by their condition in life, their trade, or some personal
peculiarity. See Note, p. 203.]

[Footnote 7: A title given in England in Franklin's time to the
descendants of knights and noblemen.]

[Footnote 8: A writer whose duties were similar to those of our notary.]

[Footnote 9: "Old style," i.e., the method of reckoning time which
formerly prevailed and which had caused an error of eleven days. The
new style of reckoning was adopted in England in 1752.]

[Footnote 10: The passage of the soul into another body; one might
have supposed that the soul of the uncle had taken up abode in
Franklin's body.]

[Footnote 11: Franklin omitted the verses.]

[Footnote 12: Who was queen from 1553 to 1558.]

[Footnote 13: "Joint stool," i.e., a stool made of parts fitted

[Footnote 14: "Outed for nonconformity," i.e., turned out of the
church for not conforming to the usages of the Church of England and
for holding meetings of dissenters for public worship.]

[Footnote 15: Franklin was born Sunday, Jan. 17, 1706 (Jan. 6, old
style). The family then lived in a small house on Milk Street, near
the Old South Church, where the Boston Post building now stands.]

[Footnote 16: The persecution which the first settlers practiced
against all who differed with them in religious doctrines.]

[Footnote 17: Sherburne is now called Nantucket.]

[Footnote 18: The lines which Dr. Franklin had forgotten are these:

    "I am for peace and not for war,
      And that's the reason why
    I write more plain than some men do,
      That used to daub and lie.
    But I shall cease, and set my name
      To what I here insert,
    Because to be a libeler
      I hate it with my heart."

[Footnote 19: In Franklin's time the grammar school was a school for
teaching Latin, which was begun by committing the grammar to memory.]

[Footnote 20: Characters, or method of writing shorthand.]

[Footnote 21: Candles were made by dipping wicks in the fat a number
of times, and also by setting the wicks in a mold and pouring the fat
round them.]

[Footnote 22: Ants.]

[Footnote 23: The marble having crumbled, a larger stone was placed
over the grave in 1827, and Franklin's inscription repeated. It stands
in the Granary Burying Ground.]

[Footnote 24: Aged.]

[Footnote 25: A joiner is a mechanic who does the woodwork of houses,
etc.; a turner, one who works with a lathe; a brasier, a worker in

[Footnote 26: A chapman was a peddler.]

[Footnote 27: Agreements written upon sheets, the edges of which were
cut or indented to match each other, for security and identification.]

[Footnote 28: A street in London in which many writers of small
ability or reputation, or of unhappy fortune, had lodgings. "Grub
Street style," therefore, means poor or worthless in literary value.
The term, which always implied a sneer, was made current by Pope and
Swift and their coterie.]

[Footnote 29: A paper published in London every week day from the 1st
of March, 1711, to the 6th of December, 1712, and made up for the most
part of essays by Addison, Steele, and their friends. It held aloof
from politics, and dealt with the manners of the time and with

[Footnote 30: These gentlemen of Port Royal lived in the old convent
of Port Royal des Champs, near Paris. They were learned men who, with
other works, prepared schoolbooks, among which was the "Art of
Thinking," a logic.]

[Footnote 31: "The Socratic method," i.e., the method of modest
questioning, which Socrates used with pupils and opponents alike, and
by which he led them to concessions and unforeseen conclusions.]

[Footnote 32: These lines are not Pope's, but Lord Roscommon's,
slightly modified.]

[Footnote 33: "The New England Courant was the fourth newspaper that
appeared in America. The first number of the Boston News-Letter was
published April 24, 1704. This was the first newspaper in America. The
Boston Gazette commenced Dec. 21, 1719; the American Weekly Mercury,
at Philadelphia, Dec. 22, 1719; the New England Courant, Aug. 21,
1721. Dr. Franklin's error of memory probably originated in the
circumstance of his brother having been the printer of the Boston
Gazette when it was first established. This was the second newspaper
published in America."--SPARKS.]

[Footnote 34: Told.]

[Footnote 35: Lowered; put down.[n]]

[Footnote 36: The legislature.]

[Footnote 37: Errors; mistakes.]


My inclinations for the sea were by this time worn out, or I might now
have gratified them. But, having a trade, and supposing myself a
pretty good workman, I offered 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, Aquila Rose, by death; if you go thither I believe
he may employ you." Philadelphia was a hundred miles farther; 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,[38] 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 desired 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[39] was the first that I know of who mixed
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. Defoe[n] in his
"Crusoe," his "Moll Flanders," "Religious Courtship," "Family
Instructor," and other pieces, has imitated it with success; and
Richardson has done the same in his "Pamela," etc.

When we drew near the island we found it was at a place where there
could be no landing, there being a great surf on the stony beach. So
we dropped anchor, and swung round toward the shore. Some people came
down to the water edge and hallooed to us, as we did to them; but the
wind was so high and the surf so loud that we could not hear so as to
understand each other. There were canoes on the shore, and we made
signs, and hallooed 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. In the mean time, 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 leaked
through 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, the water we sailed on being salt.

In the evening I found myself very feverish, and went in to bed; but,
having read somewhere that cold water, drunk plentifully, was good for
a fever, I followed 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,[40]
where I was told I should find boats that would carry me the rest of
the way to Philadelphia.

It rained very hard all the day. I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon a
good deal tired, so I stopped at a poor inn, where I stayed 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 asked 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 continued as long as he lived.[n] 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,[41] and was ingenious, but much of an unbeliever, and
wickedly undertook, some years after, to travesty the Bible in doggerel
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 reached
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 asked 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 toward
Philadelphia, with several people in her. They took me in, and, as
there was no wind, we rowed 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, and 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
arrived 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 stuffed 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.[42] The latter I gave the
people of the boat for my passage, who at first refused 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 through 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 asked for biscuit, intending
such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in
Philadelphia. Then I asked for a threepenny 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 threepenny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great
puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having
no room in my pockets, walked 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.

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 meetinghouse of the
Quakers near the market.[43] I sat down among them, and, after looking
round awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor
and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and
continued 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 liked, 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 returned; and, being shown to a bed, I lay
down without undressing and slept till six in the evening, was called 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 introduced me to his son, who received me
civilly, and gave me a breakfast, but told me he did not at present want
a hand, being lately supplied 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, "Neighbor," says Bradford, "I have brought to see
you a young man of your business; perhaps you may want such a one." He
asked me a few questions, put a composing stick[44] in my hand to see
how I worked, 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 townspeople that had a good will
for him, he entered 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 relied 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,[45] and the other a mere novice.
Bradford left me with Keimer, who was greatly surprised when I told
him who the old man was.

Keimer's printing house, I found, consisted of an old shattered press
and one small, worn-out font of English,[46] which he was then using
himself, composing an elegy on Aquila 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,[47] but one pair of cases, and the elegy
likely to require all the letters, no one could help him. I endeavored
to put his press (which he had not yet used and of which he understood
nothing) into order fit to be worked with; and, promising to come and
print off his elegy as soon as he should have got it ready, I returned
to Bradford's, who gave me a little job to do for the present, and
there I lodged and dieted.[48] A few days after Keimer sent for me to
print off the elegy. And now he had got another pair of cases, 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,
though something of a scholar, was a mere compositor, knowing nothing
of press work. He had been one of the French prophets,[49] 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 worked 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 happened to see me eating my roll in the street.

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, thanked 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.

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 showed him the letter. The
governor read it, and seemed surprised when he was told my age. He
said I appeared 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 afterward 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 dressed, 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 inquired for me, came up, and with a condescension and
politeness I had been quite unused to, made me many compliments,
desired to be acquainted with me, blamed 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 stared like a pig poisoned. I went, however,
with the governor and Colonel French to a tavern at the corner of
Third Street, and over the Madeira he proposed my setting up my
business, laid before me the probabilities of success, and both he and
Colonel French assured me I should have their interest and influence
in procuring the public business of both governments.[50] 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 mean time 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 honor I thought it, and conversing with me in the most affable,
familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.

About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offered 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 obliged to pump almost continually, at which I took my turn. We
arrived safe, however, at Boston in about a fortnight. I had been
absent seven months, and my friends had heard nothing of me; for my
brother Holmes was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My
unexpected appearance surprised 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 dressed than ever while in his
service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my
pockets lined with near five pounds sterling in silver. He received me
not very frankly, looked me all over, and turned to his work again.

The journeymen were inquisitive where I had been, what sort of a
country it was, and how I liked it. I praised 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 produced a
handful of silver and spread it before them, which was a kind of
raree-show[51] they had not been used to, paper being the money of
Boston. 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[52] to drink, and took my leave. This visit of mine offended him
extremely; 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.

My father received the governor's letter with some apparent surprise,
but said little of it to me for several days, when, Captain Holmes
returning, he showed 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
favor 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

My friend and companion, Collins, who was a clerk in the post office,
pleased 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 mathematics and natural philosophy, to
come with mine and me to New York, where he proposed to wait for me.

My father, though he did not approve Sir William's proposition, was
yet pleased 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, advised me to behave respectfully to the people there,
endeavor 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 embarked 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 loved 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 afterward occasioned me a good deal of

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 impressed 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 appeared to
encourage, she took me aside, and said, "Young man, I am concerned for
thee, as thou hast no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of
the world, or of the snares youth is exposed 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 seemed at first not
to think so ill of them as she did, she mentioned some things she had
observed and heard that had escaped my notice, but now convinced me
she was right. I thanked her for her kind advice, and promised to
follow it. When we arrived at New York, they told me where they lived,
and invited me to come and see them; but I avoided it, and it was well
I did; for the next day the captain missed a silver spoon and some
other things, that had been taken out of his cabin, and he got a
warrant to search their lodgings, found the stolen goods, and had the
thieves punished. So, though we had escaped a sunken rock, which we
scraped upon in the passage, I thought this escape of rather more
importance to me.

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived 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 outstripped me. While I lived in Boston most of my hours of
leisure for conversation were spent with him, and he continued 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 acquired
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 behaved very oddly. He had gamed, too, and
lost his money, so that I was obliged to discharge his lodgings, and
defray his expenses to and at Philadelphia, which proved 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, desired 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 governor treated me with great civility, showed 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 honor 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 finished our journey. Collins
wished to be employed in some countinghouse; but, whether they
discovered his dramming by his breath or by his behavior, though he
had some recommendations he met with no success in any application,
and continued 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 distressed to
think what I should do in case of being called on to remit it.

His drinking continued, about which we sometimes quarreled; 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 rowed 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 continued to refuse. So he swore he would make
me row, or throw me overboard; and coming along, stepping on the
thwarts,[53] toward me, when he came up and struck at me I clutched him,
and, rising, pitched him headforemost 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
pulled her out of his reach; and ever when he drew near the boat, we
asked 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
exchanged a civil word afterward, and a West India captain, who had a
commission to procure a tutor for the sons of a gentleman at Barbadoes,
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 showed that my father was not much
out in his judgment when he supposed 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 resolved 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 advised me not to rely on him, as I
afterward 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 believed him one of the
best men in the world.[54]

I presented him an inventory of a little printing house, amounting, by
my computation, to about one hundred pounds sterling. He liked it, but
asked me if my being on the spot in England to choose 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,"[55] 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 sailed, so I
continued working with Keimer, fretting about the money Collins had
got from me, and in daily apprehensions of being called 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 becalmed off Block Island, our people set about catching
cod, and hauled up a good many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of
not eating animal food; and on this occasion I considered, 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 smelled admirably well. I balanced 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 dined
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 it is to be a "reasonable" creature, since it enables
one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

Keimer and I lived 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 loved argumentation. We
therefore had many disputations. I used to work him so with my
Socratic method, and had trepanned[56] 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."[57] He
likewise kept the seventh day Sabbath; and these two points were
essentials with him. I disliked 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 assured him
it would, and that he would be 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 dressed and brought
to us regularly by a woman in the neighborhood, who had from me a list
of forty dishes, to be prepared 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
eighteen pence 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, longed for the flesh pots of Egypt, and ordered
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
Brogden; 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 criticising.
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 conferred on what we read.

Ralph was inclined 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, assured him he had no genius
for poetry, and advised him to think of nothing beyond the business he
was bred to; that, in the mercantile way, though he had no stock, he
might, by his diligence and punctuality, recommend himself to
employment as a factor,[58] and in time acquire wherewith to trade on
his own account. I approved 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 proposed 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 Deity. When the time
of our meeting grew 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 showed me his piece for my
opinion, and I much approved it, as it appeared to me to have great
merit. "Now," says he, "Osborne never will allow the least merit in
anything of mine, but makes a thousand 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 transcribed 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
would be admitted; produce I must. It was read and repeated; Watson
and Osborne gave up the contest, and joined in applauding it. Ralph
only made some criticisms, and proposed some amendments; but I
defended my text. Osborne was against Ralph, and told him he was no
better a critic than poet, so he dropped the argument. As they two
went home together, Osborne expressed himself still more strongly in
favor of what he thought my production, having restrained himself
before, as he said, lest I should think it flattery. "But who would
have imagined," said he, "that Franklin had been capable of such a
performance; such painting, such force, such fire! He has even
improved the original. In his common conversation he seems to have no
choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet, good heavens! how
he writes!" When we next met, Ralph discovered the trick we had played
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.[59] 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 happened 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 fulfilled his promise.

The governor, seeming to like my company, had me frequently to his
house, and his setting me up was always mentioned 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 called to take my leave and receive the
letters, his secretary, Dr. Baird, 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 on this voyage. It was thought he intended to establish a
correspondence, and obtain goods to sell on commission; but I found
afterward that, through some discontent with his wife's relations, he
proposed to leave her on their hands, and never return again. Having
taken leave of my friends, and interchanged some promises with Miss
Read, I left Philadelphia in the ship, which anchored at Newcastle.
The governor was there; but when I went to his lodging, the secretary
came to me from him with the civilest 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, and wished me
heartily a good voyage and a speedy return, etc. I returned on board a
little puzzled, but still not doubting.

[Footnote 38: Kill von Kull, the strait between Staten Island and New

[Footnote 39: That is, John Bunyan, the author of the book.]

[Footnote 40: In New Jersey.]

[Footnote 41: Learning.]

[Footnote 42: English penny pieces. The coin money used by the
colonists was at this time of foreign make.]

[Footnote 43: This market stood on the southwest corner of Second and
Market Streets.]

[Footnote 44: A composing stick is a small tray which the compositor
holds in his left hand and in which he arranges the type that he picks
out of the cases with his right hand.]

[Footnote 45: A false reasoner, and hence a deceiver.]

[Footnote 46: The name of a kind of type.]

[Footnote 47: Manuscript or printing of original matter.]

[Footnote 48: Boarded.]

[Footnote 49: The Camisards, who broke away from the state religion of
France, and suffered persecution at the hands of Louis XIV. They
showed their spiritual zeal by the prophetic mania and by working
miracles, as well as by a stout attachment to their creed.]

[Footnote 50: "Both governments," i.e., both Pennsylvania and Delaware.]

[Footnote 51: Peep show.]

[Footnote 52: "Piece of eight," i.e., the Spanish dollar, containing
eight reals. The present value of a real is about five cents.]

[Footnote 53: The seats across the boat on which the oarsmen sit.]

[Footnote 54: For Governor Keith's character and popularity, see p. 58.]

[Footnote 55: Captain Annis, commander of the ship, is here referred to.]

[Footnote 56: Entrapped.]

[Footnote 57: Lev. xix. 27.]

[Footnote 58: An agent or commission merchant.]

[Footnote 59: In 1728 Alexander Pope published his Dunciad, and in Book
III. lines 165, 166, he refers to Ralph, who was then living in London:

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

Later, his History of England during the Reigns of King William, Queen
Anne, and King George I. was highly praised (see pp. 177, 178).]


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) returned from Newcastle to
Philadelphia, the father being recalled by a great fee to plead for a
seized ship; and, just before we sailed, 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 removed thither.

Understanding that Colonel French had brought on board the governor's
dispatches, I asked the captain for those letters that were to be put
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 arrived 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, "Oh! this is from Riddlesden. I have lately found him to
be a complete rascal, and I will have nothing to do with him, nor
receive any letters from him." So, putting the letter into my hand, he
turned on his heel and left me, to serve some customer. I was
surprised 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 laughed 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 endeavor 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."

We both of us happened to know, as well as the stationer, that
Riddlesden, the attorney, was a very knave. He had half ruined Miss
Read's father by persuading him to be bound[60] for him. By this
letter it appeared there was a secret scheme on foot to the prejudice
of Hamilton (supposed 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
arrived 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 thanked me cordially, the
information being of importance to him; and from that time he became
my friend, greatly to my advantage afterward 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 wished 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, though not for
his constituents, the proprietaries,[61] 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[62] 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;[63] so he
borrowed occasionally of me to subsist while he was looking out for
business. He first endeavored to get into the playhouse, believing
himself qualified for an actor; but Wilkes,[64] to whom he applied,
advised him candidly not to think of that employment, as it was
impossible he should succeed in it. Then he proposed to Roberts, a
publisher in Paternoster Row, to write for him a weekly paper like the
"Spectator," on certain conditions which Roberts did not approve. Then
he endeavored to get employment as a hackney writer,[65] to copy for the
stationers and lawyers about the Temple,[66] but could find no vacancy.

I immediately got into work at Palmer's, then a famous printing house
in Bartholomew Close, and here I continued 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 seemed 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[67] 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, "Dissertation on Liberty and
Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." I inscribed it to my friend Ralph; I
printed a small number. It occasioned my being more considered by Mr.
Palmer as a young man of some ingenuity, though he seriously
expostulated with me upon the principles of my pamphlet, which to him
appeared abominable. My printing this pamphlet was another erratum.

While I lodged 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 secondhand 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
esteemed a great advantage, and I made as much use of it as I could.

My pamphlet 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-ale house 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 promised to give me an opportunity, some time or
other, of seeing Sir Isaac Newton, of which I was extremely 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[68]
heard of it, came to see me, and invited me to his house in Bloomsbury
Square, where he showed 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 lodged 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 lived 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 honor 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 endeavored rather
to discourage his proceeding. One of Young's[n] satires was then just
published. I copied 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.

A breach at last arose between us; and, when he returned again to
London, he let me know he thought I had canceled 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 advanced 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 burden. 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. Here I continued all the rest of my stay in London.

At my first admission into this printing house I took to working at
press,[69] imagining I felt a want of the bodily exercise I had been
used to in America, where press work is mixed 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
supposed, to drink strong beer that he might be strong to labor. I
endeavored 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.

Watts after some weeks desiring to have me in the composing room, I
left the pressmen; a new _bien venu_,[70] 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,[71] transposing my
pages, breaking my matter, etc., if I were ever so little out of the
room, and all ascribed to the chapel[72] ghost, which they said ever
haunted those not regularly admitted, that, notwithstanding the
master's protection, I found myself obliged to comply and pay the
money, convinced of the folly of being on ill terms with those one is
to live with continually.

I was now on a fair footing with them, and soon acquired considerable
influence. I proposed some reasonable alterations in their chapel laws,
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 supplied from a neighboring house with a
large porringer of hot water gruel, sprinkled with pepper, crumbed with
bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price of a pint of beer,
namely, three halfpence. This was a more comfortable as well as cheaper
breakfast, and kept their heads clearer. Those who continued sotting
with beer all day were often, by not paying, out of credit at the
alehouse, and used to make interest with me to get beer, their "light,"
as they phrased it, "being out." I watched the pay table on Saturday
night, and collected what I stood engaged for them, having to pay
sometimes near thirty shillings a week on their accounts. This, and my
being esteemed a pretty good "riggite,"--that is, a jocular verbal
satirist,--supported my consequence in the society. My constant
attendance (I never making a Saint Monday[73]) 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.

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
backward, at an Italian warehouse. A widow lady kept the house; she
had a daughter, and a maidservant, and a journeyman who attended the
warehouse, but lodged abroad. After sending to inquire my character at
the house where I last lodged, she agreed to take me in at the same
rate, three shillings and sixpence 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 time of Charles II. 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
talked 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 stayed 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: she was
a Roman Catholic, had been sent abroad when young, and lodged 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 vowed 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 asked her," says my landlady, "how she,
as she lived, 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
conversed pleasantly. The room was clean, but had no other furniture
than a mattress, a table with a crucifix and book, a stool which she
gave me to sit on, and a picture over the chimney of St. Veronica[74]
displaying her handkerchief, with the miraculous figure of Christ's
bleeding face on it, which she explained to me with great seriousness.
She looked 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 loved reading. I taught him and a friend of his to
swim at twice going into the river, and they soon became good
swimmers. They introduced me to some gentlemen from the country, who
went to Chelsea[75] by water to see the college and Don Saltero's[76]
curiosities. 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,[77] performing on the way
many feats of activity, both upon and under the water, that surprised
and pleased those to whom they were novelties.

I had from a child been ever delighted with this exercise, had studied
and practiced all Thevenot's motions and positions, and 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
flattered by their admiration; and Wygate, who was desirous of
becoming a master, grew more and more attached 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 thanked them for the easy
composition[78] they had favored 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
proposed 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 managed well, would establish me handsomely. The
thing pleased me, for I was grown tired of London, remembered with
pleasure the happy months I had spent in Pennsylvania, and wished again
to see it; therefore I immediately agreed on the terms of fifty pounds a
year, Pennsylvania money; less, indeed, than my present gettings as a
compositor, but affording a better prospect.

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 packed 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 Blackfriar's, 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 wished to have them first taught
swimming, and proposed to gratify[79] 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
worked 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 loved him,
notwithstanding, for he had many amiable qualities. I had by no means
improved my fortune; but I had picked up some very ingenious
acquaintance, whose conversation was of great advantage to me; and I
had read considerably.

We sailed from Gravesend on the 23d 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[80] 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
through to old age.

[Footnote 60: Responsible for the payment of a note.]

[Footnote 61: The owners or proprietors of Pennsylvania, which Charles
II. had given William Penn, were Penn's sons. They lived in England.]

[Footnote 62: A street in London.]

[Footnote 63: A pistole was a Spanish gold coin worth about four

[Footnote 64: A comedian of some note.]

[Footnote 65: A hackney writer, or hack writer, is one employed to
write according to direction.]

[Footnote 66: Inns of Court in London, occupied by lawyers.]

[Footnote 67: Setting type.]

[Footnote 68: A celebrated physician and naturalist. To him Franklin

"SIR: Having lately been in the northern parts of America, I have
brought from thence a purse made of the asbestos, ... called by the
inhabitants 'salamander cotton.' As you are noted to be a lover of
curiosities, I have informed you of this; and if you have any
inclination to purchase or see it, let me know your pleasure by a line
for me at the Golden Fan, Little Britain, and I will wait upon you
with it. I am, sir, your most humble servant,

    "B. FRANKLIN."

[Footnote 69: This press is now preserved at the Patent Office in

[Footnote 70: A French expression meaning "welcome."]

[Footnote 71: Pieces in a font of type.]

[Footnote 72: "A printing house used to be called a chapel by the
workmen, and a journeyman, on entering a printing house, was
accustomed to pay one or more gallons of beer 'for the good of the
chapel,'"--W. F. FRANKLIN, quoted by Bigelow.]

[Footnote 73: "Never making," etc., i.e., never making a holiday of
Monday. The heavy drinkers of Saturday night and Sunday needed Monday
to recover from their excesses.]

[Footnote 74: The woman who, according to legend, wiped the face of
Jesus on his way to Calvary, and carried away the likeness of his
face, which had been miraculously printed on the cloth.]

[Footnote 75: A suburb of London, north of the Thames.]

[Footnote 76: Don Saltero had been a servant to Sir Hans Sloane, and
had learned from him to treasure curiosities. He now had a coffeehouse
at Chelsea.]

[Footnote 77: A name given to a part of London. The distance Franklin
swam was about three miles.]

[Footnote 78: Settlement.]

[Footnote 79: Pay.]

[Footnote 80: This plan has never been found.]


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 seemed a
little ashamed at seeing me, but passed without saying anything. I
should have been as much ashamed 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 bear his name, it being now said
that he had another wife. He was a worthless fellow, though 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 supplied with
stationery, plenty of new types, a number of hands, though none good,
and seemed to have a great deal of business.

Mr. Denham took a store in Water Street, where we opened our goods; I
attended the business diligently, studied accounts, and grew, in a
little time, expert at selling. We lodged and boarded together; he
counseled 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,[81] when I had just passed my
twenty-first year, we were both 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[82]
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.

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 tried for further
employment as a merchant's clerk; but, not readily meeting with any, I
closed 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 extremely low wages per week, to be raised 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
bookbinding, which he, by agreement, was to teach them, though he knew
neither one nor the other. John ----, a wild Irishman, brought up to
no business, whose service, for four years, Keimer had purchased[83]
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 perceived that the intention of engaging me at wages so much
higher than he had been used to give was to have these raw, cheap
hands formed through me; and, as soon as I had instructed them, then
they being all articled[84] to him, he should be able to do without
me. I went on, however, very cheerfully, 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: he was born in Gloucester, educated at a
grammar school there, and had been distinguished among the scholars for
some apparent superiority in performing his part when they exhibited
plays. He belonged 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 satisfied, wishing of all things to see London, and become a
player. At length, receiving his quarterly allowance of fifteen
guineas,[85] instead of discharging his debts he walked out of town, hid
his gown in a furze bush, and footed it to London, where, having no
friends to advise him, he fell into bad company, soon spent his guineas,
found no means of being introduced among the players, grew necessitous,
pawned his clothes, and wanted bread. Walking the street very hungry,
and not knowing what to do with himself, a crimp's[86] bill was put into
his hand, offering immediate entertainment and encouragement to such as
would bind themselves to serve in America. He went directly, signed 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-natured, and a pleasant companion, but idle, thoughtless, and
imprudent to the last degree.

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 economist.
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 mold, made
use of the letters we had as puncheons, struck the matrices[87] in
lead, and thus supplied in a pretty tolerable way all deficiencies. I
also engraved several things on occasion; I made the ink; I was
warehouseman,[88] and everything, and, in short, quite a factotum.

But, however serviceable I might be, I found that my services became
every day of less importance, as the other hands improved 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 seemed ready for an
outbreaking. I went on, nevertheless, with a good deal of patience,
thinking that his encumbered circumstances were partly the cause. At
length a trifle snapped our connections; for, a great noise happening
near the courthouse, I put my head out of the window to see what was
the matter. Keimer, being in the street, looked up and saw me, and
called 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 neighbors, who were looking out on the same
occasion, being witnesses how I was treated. He came up immediately
into the printing house; continued the quarrel; high words passed on
both sides. He gave me the quarter's warning we had stipulated,
expressing a wish that he had not been obliged to so long a warning. I
told him that his wish was unnecessary, for I would leave him that
instant; and so, taking my hat, walked 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 conceived a great regard for me, and was very unwilling
that I should leave the house while he remained 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 possessed; 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 passed 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 approved 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
hoped might break him of that wretched habit entirely when we came to
be so closely connected. I gave an inventory to the father, who
carried it to a merchant; the things were sent for, the secret was to
be kept till they should arrive, and in the mean time 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 employed 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 job 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 returned, and we
went on more smoothly than for some time before. The New Jersey job
was obtained, I contrived a copperplate press for it, the first that
had been seen in the country; I cut several ornaments and checks[89]
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 improved by
reading than Keimer's, I suppose it was for that reason my
conversation seemed to be more valued. They had me to their houses,
introduced me to their friends, and showed me much civility; while he,
though the master, was a little neglected. In truth, he was an odd
fish; ignorant of common life, fond of rudely opposing received
opinions, slovenly to extreme dirtiness, enthusiastic in some points
of religion, and a little knavish withal.

We continued 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 the brickmakers, learned to write after
he was of age, carried the chain for surveyors, who taught him
surveying, and he had now by his industry acquired 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 afterward 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 influenced the future
events of my life. My parents had early given me religious
impressions, and brought me through my childhood piously in the
Dissenting[90] 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[91] 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 afterward
wronged me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting
Keith's conduct toward me (who was another freethinker), and my own
toward Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble, I
began to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not
very useful. My London pamphlet, which had for its motto these lines
of Dryden:

    "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;"[92]

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, appeared now not so clever a performance as I once thought
it; and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself
unperceived into my argument, so as to infect all that followed, as is
common in metaphysical reasonings.

I grew convinced that truth, sincerity, and integrity in dealings
between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of
life; and I formed 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 entertained an opinion that,
though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by
it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably those 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 favorable
circumstances and situations, or all together,--preserved me, through
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 determined to preserve it.

We had not been long returned to Philadelphia before the new types
arrived 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, though 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, stopped 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 formed most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of
mutual improvement, which we called the "Junto."[93] 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 discussed 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.[n]

The first members were: Joseph Breintnal, a copier of deeds for the
scriveners, a good-natured, friendly, middle-aged man, a great lover
of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some that was
tolerable; very ingenious in many little knick-knackeries, 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.[94] 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,
afterward surveyor general, who loved books, and sometimes made a few
verses. William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, had
acquired a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied
with a view to astrology that he afterward laughed at. 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 characterized 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 afterward a merchant of great note, and one of our provincial
judges. Our friendship continued without interruption to his death,
upward 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, every one of these exerting themselves in recommending
business to us. Breintnal particularly procured us from the Quakers
the printing forty sheets of their history, the rest being to be done
by Keimer; and upon this we worked exceedingly hard, for the price was
low. It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long primer notes.
I composed 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[95] for the next day's work, for the little
jobs sent in by our other friends now and then put us back. But so
determined I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the folio that one
night, when, having imposed[96] my forms, I thought my day's work
over, one of them by accident was broken, and two pages reduced to
pi,[97] I immediately distributed 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 choose to engage in shop business.

I mention this industry the more particularly and the more freely,
though 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 favor 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 managed, 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 this; 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 employed.
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 continued some
months. By this means the attention of the public was fixed on that
paper, and Keimer's proposals, which were burlesqued and ridiculed,
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 proved in a few years
extremely profitable to me.[98]

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number, though our
partnership still continued; 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.

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[99] 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 talked
of, and in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers.

Their example was followed by many, and our number went on growing
continually. This was one of the first good effects of my having
learned a little to scribble;[n] 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 public 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.[100]

Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt I owed him, but
did not press me. I wrote him an ingenuous letter of acknowledgment,
craved his forbearance a little longer, which he allowed me, and as soon
as I was able I paid the principle, 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 sued us
all. We gave bail, but saw that, if the money could not be raised 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 anything, 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 remained
of the Merediths' 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 failed in their
performance, and our partnership must be dissolved, 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 further. 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 inclined 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, signed, and sealed 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 public.

As soon as he was gone, I recurred 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.

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. The wealthy inhabitants opposed 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 discussed 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 walked about the streets of Philadelphia,
eating my roll, I saw most of the houses in Walnut Street, between
Second and Front Streets, 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.

Our debates possessed 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 received by the common
people in general; but the rich men disliked it, for it increased and
strengthened the clamor for more money, and they, happening to have no
writers among them that were able to answer it, their opposition
slackened, and the point was carried by a majority in the House. My
friends there, who conceived I had been of some service, thought fit
to reward me by employing me in printing the money,--a very profitable
job and a great help to me. This was another advantage gained by my
being able to write.

The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident
as never afterward to be much disputed; so that it grew soon to
fifty-five thousand pounds, and in 1739 to eighty thousand pounds,
since which it rose during war to upward of three hundred and fifty
thousand pounds, trade, building, and inhabitants all the while
increasing, though I now think there are limits, beyond which the
quantity may be hurtful.[101]

I soon after obtained, through my friend Hamilton, the printing of the
Newcastle paper money, another profitable job, 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,[102] which continued in my hands as long as
I followed the business.

I now opened a little stationer's shop. I had in it blanks of all
sorts, the correctest that ever appeared 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 worked with me constantly and
diligently; and I took an apprentice, the son of Aquila Rose.

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 dressed plainly; I was seen
at no places of idle diversion; I never went out a-fishing or
shooting; a book, indeed, sometimes debauched me from my work, but
that was seldom, snug,[103] and gave no scandal; and, to show that I
was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I
purchased at the stores through the streets on a wheelbarrow. Thus,
being esteemed 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 mean time, Keimer's credit and business declining
daily, he was at last forced 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 worked 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
proposed a partnership to him, which he, fortunately for me, rejected
with scorn. He was very proud, dressed like a gentleman, lived
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 employed his former
master as a journeyman; they quarreled often; Harry went continually
behindhand, and at length was forced to sell his types and return to
his country work in Pennsylvania. The person that bought them employed
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,
though I did indeed receive and send papers by post, yet the public
opinion was otherwise, for what I did send was by bribing the
riders,[104] who took them privately, Bradford being unkind enough to
forbid it, which occasioned 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 continued 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, though he worked little, being always absorbed
in his mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey projected a match for me with a
relation's daughter, and took opportunities of bringing us often
together, till a serious courtship on my part ensued, the girl being
in herself very deserving. The old folks encouraged me by continual
invitations to supper, and by leaving us together, till at length it
was time to explain. Mrs. Godfrey managed our little treaty. I let her
know that I expected as much money[n] with their daughter as would pay
off my remaining debt for the printing house, which I believe was 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 pleased, 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 looked 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. In the mean time a friendly
correspondence as neighbors and old acquaintances had continued
between me and Mr. 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
pitied poor Miss Read's unfortunate situation, who was generally
dejected, seldom cheerful, and avoided company. I considered my
giddiness and inconstancy when in London as in a great degree the
cause of her unhappiness, though 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[105] was indeed looked upon as invalid, a
preceding wife being said to be living in England; but this could not
easily be proved because of the distance; and though there was a
report of his death, it was not certain. Then, though it should be
true, he had left many debts, which his successor might be called upon
to pay. We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took
her to wife Sept. 1, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened that we
had apprehended; she proved a good and faithful helpmate, assisted me
much by attending shop, we throve together, and have ever mutually
endeavored to make each other happy. Thus I corrected that great
erratum as well as I could.[106]

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 referred to in our disquisitions
upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them all
together where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and
by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we
liked 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 liked and agreed to, and
we filled one end of the room with such books as we could best spare.
The number was not so great as we expected; and though 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.[n] 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 afterward obtained 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.[107]


It is some time since I received the above letters,[108] 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
endeavor to recollect and write what I can; if I live to get home, it
may there be corrected and improved.

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 established 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 Philadelphia the printers were indeed stationers; they
sold only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common
schoolbooks. Those who loved 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 proposed 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 wished to read at home. This was accordingly
done, and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I proposed 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 skillful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden, to
put the whole in form of articles of agreement to be subscribed, by
which each subscriber engaged 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 public
amusements to divert their attention from study, became better
acquainted with books, and in a few years were observed 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 fixed 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.[109]

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 supposed to raise
one's reputation in the smallest degree above that of one's neighbors,
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 practiced it on such
occasions, and, from my frequent successes, can heartily recommend it.
The present little sacrifice of your vanity will afterward be amply
repaid. If it remains awhile uncertain to whom the merit belongs, some
one 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 repaired in
some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended
for me. Reading was the only amusement I allowed myself. I spent no
time in taverns, games, or frolics of any kind; and my industry in my
business continued 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 for business with 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
business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean
men,"[110] I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining
wealth and distinction, which encouraged me, though 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.[n]

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 disposed to
industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully in my
business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing
old linen rags for the paper makers, 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 bread and milk (no tea), and I
ate it out of a two-penny earthen porringer, with a pewter spoon. But
mark how luxury will enter families and make a progress in spite of
principle. Being called 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 deserved 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 increased, augmented gradually to
several hundred pounds in value.

I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and, though 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 governed 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 esteemed the essentials of every religion; and
being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I
respected them all, though with different degrees of respect as I
found them more or less mixed with other articles which, without any
tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served 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, induced me
to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion
another might have of his own religion; and as our province increased
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.

Though 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 used to
visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his
administrations, and I was now and then prevailed on to do so, once
for five Sundays successively. Had he been in my opinion a good
preacher, perhaps I might have continued, 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 enforced, their aim seeming to be rather to make us
Presbyterians than good citizens.

At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter of
Philippians: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are
of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
think on these things;" and I imagined, in a sermon on such a text, we
could not miss of having some morality. But he confined himself to
five points only, as meant by the apostle: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath
day. 2. Being diligent in reading the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending
duly the public 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
composed a little liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use
(in 1728), entitled "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion." I
returned to the use of this, and went no more to the public
assemblies. My conduct might be blamable, but I leave it without
attempting further to excuse it, my present purpose being to relate
facts, and not to make apologies for them.

[Footnote 81: This method of expression was adopted on the reformation
of the calendar in England in 1752. It shows in this case that the
February was of the year 1726 according to the old style, and 1727
according to the new calendar. The year 1751 began on the 25th of
March, the former New-Year's Day, and ended, by act of Parliament, at
the 1st of January, 1752.]

[Footnote 82: Declared by word of mouth, not written.]

[Footnote 83: Those who were unable to pay for their passage by ship
from one country to another, sometimes sold their service for a term
of years to the captain who brought them over.]

[Footnote 84: Bound by articles of apprenticeship.]

[Footnote 85: The guinea contains twenty-one shillings, while the
pound has twenty.]

[Footnote 86: A crimp is one who brings recruits to the army or
sailors to ships by false inducements.]

[Footnote 87: Molds.]

[Footnote 88: Here used for salesman.]

[Footnote 89: Marks or registers by which a bill may be identified.]

[Footnote 90: See Note 3, p. 19.]

[Footnote 91: Belief in the existence of a personal God, but denying

[Footnote 92:

    "Whatever is, is in its causes just,
    Since all things are by fate. But purblind man
    Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest links;
    His eyes not carrying to the equal beam
    That poises all above."

    DRYDEN, _Œdipus_, act iii. sc. I.

[Footnote 93: The word means an assembly of persons engaged for a
common purpose. It is from the Spanish _junta_ ("a council").]

[Footnote 94: An instrument used in navigation for measuring the
altitude of the sun.]

[Footnote 95: Putting the types no longer needed for printing into the
proper boxes.]

[Footnote 96: Set up for printing.]

[Footnote 97: Type in a jumbled mass.]

[Footnote 98: "This paper was called The Universal Instructor in all
Arts and Sciences and Pennsylvania Gazette. Keimer printed his last
number--the thirty-ninth--on the twenty-fifth day of September,

[Footnote 99: The governor brought instructions from the king that his
salary should be one thousand pounds. The legislature claimed the
liberty of fixing the sum themselves. Franklin ended his article with
this sentence: "Their happy mother country will perhaps observe with
pleasure that, though her gallant cocks and matchless dogs abate their
natural fire and intrepidity when transported to a foreign clime (as
this nation is), yet her sons in the remotest part of the earth, and
even to the third and fourth descent, still retain that ardent spirit
of liberty, and that undaunted courage, which has in every age so
gloriously distinguished Britons and Englishmen from the rest of

[Footnote 100: FRANKLIN'S NOTE.--I got his son once five hundred

[Footnote 101: This money had not the full value of the pound sterling.]

[Footnote 102: That is, the government of Delaware.]

[Footnote 103: In secret.]

[Footnote 104: Men on horseback who carried the mail.]

[Footnote 105: Miss Read's first marriage.]

[Footnote 106: Mrs. Franklin died Dec. 19, 1774. Franklin celebrated
his wife in a song, of which the following verses are a part:

    "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.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Am I loaded with care, she takes off a large share,
      That the burden ne'er makes me to reel;
    Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife
      Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.

           *       *       *       *       *

    "Some faults have we all, and so has my Joan,
      But then they're exceedingly small;
    And, now I'm grown used to them, so like my own,
      I scarcely can see them at all.

    "Were the finest young princess with millions in purse,
      To be had in exchange for my Joan,
    I could not get better wife, might get a worse,
      So I'll stick to my dearest old Joan."

[Footnote 107: FRANKLIN'S MEMORANDUM.--Thus far was written with the
intention expressed 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 contained in
these letters (see p. 192), and accordingly intended for the public.
The affairs of the Revolution occasioned the interruption.]

[Footnote 108: See Note 1.]

[Footnote 109: The Philadelphia Library was incorporated in 1742. In
its building is a tablet which reads as follows:

    Be it remembered,
    in honor of the Philadelphia youth
    (then chiefly artificers),
    that in MDCCXXXI.
    they cheerfully,
    at the instance of Benjamin Franklin,
    one of their number,
    instituted the Philadelphia Library,
    which, though small at first,
    is become highly valuable and extensively useful,
    and which the walls of this edifice
    are now destined to contain and preserve;
    the first stone of whose foundation
    was here placed
    the thirty-first day of August, 1789.

The inscription, save the mention of himself, was prepared by Franklin.]

[Footnote 110: See Prov. xxii. 29.]


It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of
arriving at moral perfection. I wished 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. While my
care was employed 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.

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 proposed to myself, for the sake of clearness,
to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annexed to each, than a few
names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues
all that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable, and
annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed the extent I
gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:


Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.


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


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


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


Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste


Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all
unnecessary actions.


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


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


Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they


Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.


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



Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I
judged 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 through the thirteen; and, as the previous
acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain
others, I arranged 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 acquired and
established, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain
knowledge at the same time that I improved in virtue, and considering
that in conversation it was obtained 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 endeavors 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. Conceiving then that,
agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his "Golden Verses,"[111]
daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the following method
for conducting that examination.

I made a little book,[112] in which I allotted a page for each of the
virtues. I ruled 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 crossed 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.

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 supposed the habit of that virtue
so much strengthened, and its opposite weakened, 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 through a course complete 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

                   _FORM OF THE PAGES._

    |                    TEMPERANCE.                    |
    |                EAT NOT TO DULLNESS;               |
    |              DRINK NOT TO ELEVATION.              |
    |                | S. | M. | T. | W. | T. | F. | S. |
    | T[emperance]   |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | S[ilence]      |  * |  * |    |  * |    |  * |    |
    | O[rder]        | ** |  * |  * |    |  * |  * |  * |
    | R[esolution]   |    |    |  * |    |    |  * |    |
    | F[rugality]    |    |  * |    |    |  * |    |    |
    | I[ndustry]     |    |    |  * |    |    |    |    |
    | S[incerity]    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | J[ustice]      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | M[oderation]   |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | C[leanliness]  |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | T[ranquillity] |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | C[hastity]     |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
    | H[umility]     |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |

herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but
works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplished 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. 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."[113]

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 honor. 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 prefixed 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 favors to me."

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

    "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 contained the
following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural

          THE MORNING.          { 5}   Rise, wash, and address Powerful
    _Question._ What good shall { 6} Goodness![n] Contrive day's
    I do this day?              {  } business, and take the resolution
                                { 7} of the day; prosecute the present
                                {  } study, and breakfast.

                                 10}   Work.

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

                                  3}   Work.

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

              NIGHT.            { 1}   Sleep.
                                { 2}
                                { 3}
                                { 4}

I entered upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and
continued it, with occasional intermissions, for some time. I was
surprised 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 transferred 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 marked my faults with a black lead pencil, which marks I could
easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went through one
course only in a year, and afterward only one in several years, till
at length I omitted them entirely, being employed 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; and I found that, though
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 extremely 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 neighbor, 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
turned, while the smith pressed 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
employed, 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 extreme 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.

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, though I never arrived at the perfection I had been
so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the
endeavor, 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, though they never reach the wished-for
excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavor, 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 owed the constant
felicity of his life, down to his seventy-ninth 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
enjoyed 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, 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.

It will be remarked that, though 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 any one, 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,"[114]
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.)

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, has 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 remained unfinished.

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, every one's interest to be virtuous who wished
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 endeavored 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 contained at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend
having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my
pride showed 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 convinced me by mentioning several
instances,--I determined endeavoring 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 forbade
myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word
or expression in the language that imported a fixed 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 denied 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 "appeared" or "seemed" to me some difference, etc. I soon
found the advantage of this change in my manner: the conversations I
engaged in went on more pleasantly; the modest way in which I proposed
my opinions procured them a readier reception and less contradiction;
I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong; and I
more easily prevailed 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 completely
overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.[115]


Having mentioned a great and extensive project which I had conceived,
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 preserved:

_Observations on my Reading History, in Library, May 19, 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

     "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 gained 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 though their
     actings bring real good to their country, yet men primarily
     consider that their own and their country's interest is united,
     and do 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 governed 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

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

    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 occurred 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 expressed in these

"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 before-mentioned 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 called "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, induced 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 discouraged 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.

In 1732 I first published my Almanac,[117] under the name of "Richard
Saunders;" it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and
commonly called "Poor Richard's Almanac." I endeavored to make it both
entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand
that I reaped 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 considered 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 occurred between the remarkable days in the calendar with
proverbial sentences,[118] 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."

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations, I
assembled and formed into a connected discourse,[119] prefixed to the
Almanac of 1757 as the harangue of a wise old man to the people
attending an auction. The bringing all these scattered counsels 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,[120] 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.

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 published
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 is not secure till its practice becomes a
habitude, and is free from the opposition of contrary inclinations.
These may be found in the papers about the beginning of 1735.

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 stagecoach, in which any one 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 furnished 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,
though 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 informed, the knowledge of
accounts makes a part of female education,[n] she not only sent me as
clear a state[121] as she could find of the transactions past, but
continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every
quarter afterward, 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 women, 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
established 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 joined 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 style are called "good works." Those, however, of our
congregation who considered themselves as orthodox Presbyterians,
disapproved his doctrine, and were joined by most of the old clergy,
who arraigned him of heterodoxy[122] before the synod, in order to
have him silenced. I became his zealous partisan, and contributed all
I could to raise a party in his favor, and we combated for him awhile
with some hopes of success. There was much scribbling pro and con[123]
upon the occasion; and finding that, though 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,
though eagerly read at the time, were soon out of vogue, and I
question whether a single copy of them now exists.

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. This detection
gave many of our party disgust, who accordingly abandoned his cause,
and occasioned our more speedy discomfiture in the synod. I stuck by
him, however, as I rather approved his giving us good sermons
composed by others than bad ones of his own manufacture, though the
latter was the practice of our common teachers. He afterward
acknowledged to me that none of those he preached 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, though I continued many years my subscription for
the support of its ministers.

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, used
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 refused 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 task the
vanquished was to perform on honor before our next meeting. As we
played pretty equally, we thus beat one another into that language. I
afterward, with a little painstaking, acquired as much of the Spanish
as to read their books also.

I have already mentioned 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 surprised 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 smoothed my way.

From these circumstances, I have thought that there is some
inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages.[n] We are told
that it is proper to begin first with the Latin, and, having acquired
that, it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are
derived 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 the 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 learned 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, though, 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.

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 called 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 performed, 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 deprived him of by leaving him so early.

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the
smallpox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and
still regret, that I had not given it to him by inoculation.[124]
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, namely, twelve. We had from the
beginning made it a rule to keep our institution a secret, which was
pretty well observed. 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 endeavor 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 passed 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 through the several clubs the sentiments of the Junto.

The project was approved, and every member undertook to form his club,
but they did not all succeed. Five or six only were completed, 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.

[Footnote 111: The following is taken from the commentary of Hierocles
upon the Golden Verses of Pythagoras. The English version is given by
Bigelow in his edition of the Autobiography:

"He [Pythagoras, who lived in the sixth century B.C.] requires also
that this examination be daily repeated. The time which he recommends
for this work is about even or bedtime, 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. Wherein have I
transgressed? What have I done? What duty have I omitted? So shall we
measure our lives by rules.

"We should have our parents and relations in high esteem, love and
embrace good men, raise ourselves above corporeal affections,
everywhere stand in awe of ourselves, carefully observe justice,
consider the frailty of riches and momentary life, embrace the lot
which falls to us by divine judgment, delight in a divine frame of
spirit, convert our mind to what is most excellent, love good
discourses, not lie open to impostures, not be servilely affected in
the possession of virtue, advise before action to prevent repentance,
free ourselves from uncertain opinions, live with knowledge, and
lastly, that we should adapt our bodies and the things without to the
exercise of virtue. These are the things which the lawgiving mind has
implanted in the souls of men."]

[Footnote 112: It is dated July 1, 1733.]

[Footnote 113: "O philosophy, thou guide of life! O thou searcher
after virtue and banisher of vice! One day lived well and in obedience
to thy precepts should be preferred to an eternity of sin."]

[Footnote 114: FRANKLIN'S NOTE.--Nothing so likely to make a man's
fortune as virtue.]

[Footnote 115: Thus far written at Passy, 1784.]

[Footnote 116: The Revolution.]

[Footnote 117: Almanacs were the first issues of the American press.
It is not easy in our day to understand their importance to the early
colonists, and their consequent popularity. The makers, philomaths
("lovers of learning") as Franklin called them, set out their wares in
every attractive form the taste and ingenuity of the age could devise.
They made them a diary, a receipt book, a jest book, and a weather
prophet, as well as a calendar book of dates. The household was poor
indeed which could not scrape up a twopence or a sixpence for the
annual copy. Once bought, it hung by the big chimney-piece, or lay
upon the clock shelf with the Bible and a theological tract or two. It
was read by the light that shone from the blazing logs of the
fireplace or the homemade tallow dip. Its recipes helped the mother in
her dyeing or weaving or cooking. Its warnings of "cold storms,"
"flurries of snow," cautioned the farmer against too early planting of
corn; and its perennial jokes flavored the mirth of many a corn
husking or apple paring.]

[Footnote 118: See p. 201.]

[Footnote 119: See pp. 193-200.]

[Footnote 120: A sheet printed on one side only and without
arrangement in columns.]

[Footnote 121: Statement.]

[Footnote 122: Departure from the faith held by the members of the
synod or assembly.]

[Footnote 123: "Pro and con," i.e., for and against.]

[Footnote 124: Vaccination was not at this time known. By inoculation
the smallpox poison was introduced into the arm, and produced a milder
form of the disease.]


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 proposed, (the choice, like that of the
members, being annual,) a new member made a long speech against me, in
order to favor 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 secured to me the business of printing
the votes, laws, paper money, and other occasional jobs 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,
afterward happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his favor 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 favor of
lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I
returned it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my
sense of the favor. 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,
though the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence that
improved my newspaper and increased 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 declined
proportionably, and I was satisfied without retaliating his refusal,
while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders.
Thus he suffered greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I
mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employed 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.

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 conceived 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 excused, which
was supposed 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 them.[n] 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 proportioned to the property. This idea, being approved 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 published,) 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 obliged 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 subject of fires as might be
useful in our conduct on such occasions.

The utility of this institution soon appeared,[n] 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, though upward of
fifty years since its establishment, that which I first formed, called
the "Union Fire Company," still subsists and flourishes, though the
first members are all deceased but myself and one who is older by a
year than I am. The small fines that have been paid by members for
absence from the monthly meetings have been applied 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.

In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Rev. Mr. Whitefield,[125]
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 refused him their pulpits, and he was
obliged 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 admired 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 seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so
that one could not walk through the town in an evening without hearing
psalms sung in different families of every street.

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
proposed, and persons appointed to receive contributions, but
sufficient sums were soon received to procure the ground and erect the
building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad, about the
size of Westminster Hall;[126] 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 of 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.

Mr. Whitefield, in leaving us, went preaching all the way through the
colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province had lately been
begun, but, instead of being made with hardy, industrious husbandmen,
accustomed to labor,--the only people fit for such an enterprise,--it
was with families of broken shopkeepers 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.[127] The sight of their
miserable situation inspired the benevolent heart of Mr. Whitefield
with the idea of building an orphan house[128] there, in which they
might be supported and educated. Returning northward, he preached 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
advised; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my
counsel, and I therefore refused 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 ashamed of that, and determined
me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied 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. Toward the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a
strong desire to give, and applied to a neighbor who stood near him,
to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was
unfortunately 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 favor ought
to have the more weight as we had no religious connection. He used,
indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but he 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 replied 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 own
sake." One of our common acquaintance remarked that, knowing it to be
the custom of the saints, when they received any favor, to shift the
burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders and place it in
heaven, I had contrived 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 auditors, however numerous, observed the
most exact silence. He preached 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 filled 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 backward down the street toward the
river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near Front Street,
when some noise in that street obscured it. Imagining then a
semicircle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it
were filled with auditors, to each of whom I allowed two square feet,
I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand.
This reconciled me to the newspaper accounts of his having preached 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 could distinguish easily between sermons newly
composed and those which he had often preached in the course of his
travels. His delivery of the latter was so improved by frequent
repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of
voice, was so perfectly well turned and well placed that, without
being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleased with
the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that received
from an excellent piece of music. 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 afterward explained or qualified by
supposing others that might have accompanied them, or they might have
been denied; but _litera scripta manet_.[129] Critics attacked 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 neighboring
provinces. I experienced, too, the truth of the observation that
"after getting the first hundred pounds it is more easy to get the
second," money itself being of a prolific nature.

The partnership at Carolina having succeeded, I was encouraged 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 as 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 partnership; 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.

I had, on the whole, abundant reason to be satisfied with my being
established in Pennsylvania. There were, however, two things which I
regretted,--there being no provision for defense, nor for a complete
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 Rev. 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, declined 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.[130] 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 joined by France, which
brought us into great danger, and the labored and long-continued
endeavor of our governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker
Assembly[131] 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 defenseless situation in strong lights,
with the necessity of union and discipline for our defense, and
promised 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 called 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 dispersed 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 colors, which they presented to the
companies, painted with different devices and mottoes which I supplied.

The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment,
being met, chose me for their colonel; but, conceiving myself unfit, I
declined that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person and
man of influence, who was accordingly appointed. I then proposed a
lottery[132] 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[133] being framed of logs and
filled 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, though without much
expectation of obtaining it.

Meanwhile Colonel Lawrence, William Allen, Abram Taylor, Esq., and
myself were sent to New York by the associators, commissioned to borrow
some cannon of Governor Clinton. He at first refused 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
advanced 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.

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 proposed to them the
proclaiming a fast, to promote reformation and implore the blessing of
Heaven on our undertaking. They embraced 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 style. It was translated into
German, printed in both languages, and divulged through 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 intervened.

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,
advised me to resign, as more consistent with my honor than being
turned 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 offered 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[134] on my adversaries." I heard, however, no more of this;
I was chosen again unanimously, as usual, at the next election.
Possibly, as they disliked my late intimacy with the members of
council, who had joined the governors in all the disputes about
military preparations with which the House had long been harassed,
they might have been pleased 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 required to
assist in it. And I found that a much greater number of them than I
could have imagined, though against offensive war, were clearly for
the defensive. Many pamphlets pro and con were published on the
subject, and some by good Quakers in favor of defense, which I believe
convinced most of their younger people.

A transaction in our fire company gave me some insight into their
prevailing sentiments. It had been proposed 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 disposed 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 though 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, appeared to oppose the measure. He expressed
much sorrow that it had ever been proposed, 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 arrived it was moved to put the vote. He allowed
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 desired to speak with me. I went down and found they were two of
our Quaker members. They told me that there were eight of them
assembled at a tavern just by; that they were determined to come and
vote with us if there should be occasion, which they hoped would not
be the case, and desired 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 allowed to be extremely fair. Not one of
his opposing friends appeared, at which he expressed great surprise,
and at the expiration of the hour we carried 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
inclined 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 proposed 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 chased by an armed vessel, supposed to be
an enemy. Their captain prepared 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, who chose to stay upon deck, and was quartered to a gun. The
supposed enemy proved a friend, so there was no fighting; but when
the secretary went down to communicate the intelligence, William Penn
rebuked 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, piqued the secretary, who answered: "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."

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 a 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[135]), and the
government of New England solicited a grant of some from Pennsylvania,
which was much urged 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, advised the governor not
to accept provision, as not being the thing he had demanded; but he
replied: "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.

It was in allusion to this fact that, when in our fire company we
feared the success of our proposal in favor 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 improved 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 suffered from having established
and published it as one of their principles that no kind of war was
lawful, and which, being once published, they could not afterward,
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.[136] I was acquainted with one of its founders,
Michael Welfare, soon after it appeared. He complained to me that they
were grievously calumniated by the zealots of other persuasions, and
charged 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 imagined it might be
well to publish the articles of their belief and the rules of their
discipline. He said that it had been proposed 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 have esteemed errors, were real
truths. From time to time He has been pleased to afford us further
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 confined 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, though 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[137] 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, found the casting of the
plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in
demand.[n] 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.
Governor Thomas was so pleased 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 declined it from a
principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions; namely,
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.

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,--though 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 neighboring colonies, has been and is a great saving
of wood to the inhabitants.

[Footnote 125: George Whitefield, one of the founders of Methodism,
who was born in Gloucester, England, in 1714, and died in Newburyport,
Mass., in 1770.[n]]

[Footnote 126: In London.]

[Footnote 127: General Oglethorpe founded an English colony in Georgia
in 1732. He wished to make an asylum to which debtors, whose liberty
the laws of England put into the hands of the creditor, (see Way to
Wealth, p. 204,) might escape, and where those fleeing from religious
persecution might be safe from their pursuers.]

[Footnote 128: This institution was established in Savannah, and
called Bethesda.]

[Footnote 129: Written words endure.]

[Footnote 130: This society continues. The plan of it was discussed by
the Junto, from which came six of the nine original members. Its
investigations were to be in botany, medicine, mineralogy and mining,
mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, arts, trades and manufactures,
geography, topography, agriculture, and "all philosophical experiments
that let light into the nature of things, tend to increase the power
of man over matter, and multiply the conveniences and pleasures of
life." "Benjamin Franklin, the writer of this proposal, offers himself
to serve the society as their secretary till they shall be provided
with one more capable."]

[Footnote 131: The Pennsylvania legislature.]

[Footnote 132: At this time lotteries were used for raising money to
support the government, to carry on wars, and to build churches,
colleges, roads, etc. They were not then looked upon as fostering

[Footnote 133: The walls of defense between the openings for the

[Footnote 134: Retaliation.]

[Footnote 135: See Note 2, p. 181.]

[Footnote 136: A sect of German-American Baptists, whose name comes
from the German _tunken_ ("to immerse").]

[Footnote 137: It is still used, and called the "Franklin stove."]


Peace being concluded, and the association business therefore at an
end, I turned 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 judged 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 "public-spirited gentlemen," avoiding
as much as I could, according to my usual rule, the presenting myself
to the public 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,
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 engaged, and the schools opened, I think, in the same
year, 1749.

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,[138] 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; namely, one Church of England man, one
Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Moravian,[139] etc.; those, in case of
vacancy by death, were to fill it by election from among the
contributors. The Moravian happened 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 mentioned me, with the observation that I was merely an
honest man and of no sect at all, which prevailed with them to choose
me. The enthusiasm which existed when the house was built had long
since abated, and its trustees had not been able to procure fresh
contributions for paying the ground rent and discharging some other
debts the building had occasioned, which embarrassed 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 removed into the building. The care and
trouble of agreeing with the workmen, purchasing materials, and
superintending the work, fell upon me; and I went through 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 worked for me four years. He took off my hands all care of
the printing office, paying me punctually my share of the profits.
This partnership continued eighteen years, successfully for us both.

The trustees of the academy after a while were incorporated by a charter
from the government; their funds were increased 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. 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 received their
education in it distinguished by their improved abilities, serviceable
in public stations, and ornaments to their country.

When I disengaged myself as above mentioned from private business, I
flattered myself that, by the sufficient though moderate fortune I had
acquired, 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 public, 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[140] 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 induced to
amuse myself with making magic squares[141] or circles, or anything to
avoid weariness; and I conceived my becoming a member would enlarge my
power of doing good. I would not, however, insinuate that my ambition
was not flattered 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 tried 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 possessed was necessary to act in
that station with credit, I gradually withdrew from it, excusing
myself by my being obliged 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 joined with some
members of council, as commissioners for that purpose. The House named
the speaker (Mr. Norris) and myself; and, being commissioned, we went
to Carlisle and met the Indians accordingly.

As those people are extremely apt to get drunk, and when so are very
quarrelsome and disorderly, we strictly forbade the selling any liquor
to them; and when they complained 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 promised 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 claimed and received the rum.

This was in the afternoon; they were near one hundred men, women, and
children, and were lodged 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 walked 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 colored 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, formed a scene the most
resembling our ideas of hell that could well be imagined, There was no
appeasing the tumult, and we retired to our lodging. At midnight a
number of them came thundering to our door, demanding more rum, of
which we took no notice.

The next day, sensible they had misbehaved in giving us that
disturbance, they sent three of their old counselors to make their
apology. The orator acknowledged the fault, but laid it upon the rum;
and then endeavored to excuse the rum by saying: "The Great Spirit,
who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he
designed 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

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 ascribed 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 endeavoring to procure
subscriptions for it, but the proposal being a novelty in America, and
at first not well understood, he met with but 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 concerned in it. "For," says he, "I am often asked 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 inquired into the
nature and probable utility of his scheme, and receiving from him a
very satisfactory explanation, I not only subscribed to it myself, but
engaged heartily in the design of procuring subscriptions from others.
Previously, however, to the solicitation, I endeavored 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 afterward were more free and generous; but,
beginning to flag, I saw they would be insufficient without some
assistance from the Assembly, and therefore proposed 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 approved 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 formed my plan; and, asking leave to bring in a bill[142]
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, namely: "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
opposed the grant, and now conceived they might have the credit of
being charitable without the expense, agreed to its passage; and then,
in soliciting subscriptions among the people, we urged the conditional
promise of the law as an additional motive to give, since every man's
donation would be doubled; thus the clause worked both ways. The
subscriptions accordingly soon exceeded the requisite sum, and we
claimed and received 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 maneuvers the success of which gave me at the time more
pleasure, or wherein, after thinking of it, I more easily excused
myself for having made some use of cunning.

It was about this time that another projector, the Rev. Gilbert
Tennent, came to me with a request that I would assist him in
procuring a subscription for erecting a new meetinghouse. 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 refused. 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 refused also to give
such a list. He then desired 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 laughed and thanked me, and said he would
take my advice. He did so, for he asked of everybody, and he obtained
a much larger sum than he expected, with which he erected the
capacious and very elegant meetinghouse that stands in Arch Street.[143]

Our city, though 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 unpaved, and in wet
weather the wheels of heavy carriages plowed them into a quagmire, so
that it was difficult to cross them, and in dry weather the dust was
offensive. I had lived near what was called 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 paved 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 paved with stone between the market and the bricked 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
paved, whenever a carriage came out of the mud upon this pavement, it
shook off and left its dirt upon it, and it was soon covered with mire,
which was not removed, 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 neighbors' doors for the sum
of sixpence per month to be paid by each house.[n] I then wrote and
printed a paper setting forth the advantages to the neighborhood that
might be obtained 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., as buyers could more
easily get at them, and by not having, in windy weather, the dust
blown in upon their goods, 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 signed, 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 raised 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, 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 impressed with the idea of enlighting
all the city. The honor of this public benefit has also been ascribed 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 supplied 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, lodged 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
continued bright till morning, and an accidental stroke would generally
break but a single pane, easily repaired.

I have sometimes wondered that the Londoners did not, from the effect
holes in the bottom of the globe lamps used at Vauxhall[144] have in
keeping them clean, learn to have such holes in their street lamps.
But, these holes being made for another purpose, namely, to
communicate flame more suddenly to the wick by a little flax hanging
down through 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.

The mention of these improvements puts me in mind of one I proposed,
when in London, to Dr. Fothergill, who was among the best men I have
known, and a great promoter of useful projects. I had observed that
the streets, when dry, were never swept, and the light dust carried
away; but it was suffered to accumulate till wet weather reduced 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 labor raked 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.

An accidental occurrence had instructed me how much sweeping might be
done in a little time. I found at my door in Craven Street[145] 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
asked who employed her to sweep there. She said, "Nobody; but I am very
poor and in distress, and I sweeps before gentlefolkses 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 twelve 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 placed in the gutter, which was in the middle;
and the next rain washed it quite away, so that the pavement, and even
the kennel,[146] were perfectly clean.

I then judged 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[147] it is proposed that the several watchmen
be contracted with to have the dust swept up in dry seasons, and the
mud raked up at other times, each in the several streets and lanes of
his round; that they be furnished 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 raked 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 placed high upon
wheels, but low upon sliders, with lattice bottoms, which, being
covered 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
placed at convenient distances, and the mud brought to them in
wheelbarrows, they remaining where placed till the mud is drained, 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 carried away before the shops are open, is
very practicable in summer, when the days are long; for, in walking
through the Strand and Fleet Street one morning at seven o'clock, I
observed there was not one shop open, though it had been daylight and
the sun up above three hours, the inhabitants of London choosing
voluntarily to live much by candlelight and sleep by sunshine; and yet
they 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 though 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.[148] 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[149] 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 Great 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 displaced by a freak of the ministers,[150] 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 received from it--not one farthing!

The business of the post office occasioned my taking a journey this
year to New England, where the College of Cambridge,[151] 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 honors. They were
conferred in consideration of my improvements and discoveries in the
electric branch of natural philosophy.

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,[152] to be assembled at Albany, there to confer with
the chiefs of the Six Nations[153] concerning the means of defending
both their country and ours. Governor Hamilton, having received 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 approved the nomination, and provided the goods for the present,
though 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 passed through 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 ventured to lay it before the
congress. It then appeared that several of the commissioners had
formed plans of the same kind. A previous question was first taken,
whether a union should be established, which passed in the affirmative
unanimously. A committee was then appointed, one member from each
colony, to consider the several plans and report. Mine happened to be
preferred, and, with a few amendments, was accordingly reported.

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[154]
in it, and in England it was judged to have too much of the
democratic.[155] The Board of Trade, therefore, did not approve of it
nor recommend it for the approbation of his Majesty; but another
scheme was formed, 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 afterward 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 make 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 defend themselves;
there would then have been no need of troops from England. Of course
the subsequent pretense 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 forced 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 happened 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.

In my journey to Boston this year I met at New York with our new
governor, Mr. Morris, just arrived there from England, with whom I had
been before intimately acquainted. He brought a commission to
supersede Mr. Hamilton, who, tired with the disputes his proprietary
instructions subjected him to, had resigned. Mr. Morris asked 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 appeared 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 retained 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-natured a man that no personal difference between him
and me was occasioned by the contest, and we often dined together.

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 admired the idea of
Sancho Panza,[156] 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
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 labored hard to blacken the Assembly in all
his messages, but they wiped off his coloring as fast as he laid it
on, and placed 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 tired of the contest, and quitted the government.

These public quarrels 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[157] 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, though 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 will show hereafter.

But I am got forward too fast with my story. There are still some
transactions to be mentioned that happened during the administration
of Governor Morris.

[Footnote 138: It stood on Fourth Street, below Arch.]

[Footnote 139: A member of a denomination which has its name from
Moravia, a division of Austria-Hungary. For an account of their home
and practices, see pp. 168-170.]

[Footnote 140: A representative in the lower house of the legislature.]

[Footnote 141: "Magic squares," i.e., square figures of a series of
numbers so disposed that the sums of each row or line, taken in any
direction, are equal. Magic squares are also formed of words or
phrases so arranged as to read the same in all directions. The magic
circle is a modification of the magic square, one form of which was
devised by Franklin.]

[Footnote 142: A form or draft of the law, presented to the
legislature for adoption.]

[Footnote 143: The church of this society is now on the corner of
Walnut and Twenty-first Streets.]

[Footnote 144: Pleasure gardens in the London of Franklin's day.]

[Footnote 145: A street in London in which Franklin had apartments.]

[Footnote 146: Little channel or gutter.]

[Footnote 147: Now a part of London, but formerly a separate

[Footnote 148: "From the manuscript journal of Mr. Andrew Ellicott,"
says Mr. John Bigelow in one of his editions of the Autobiography, "I
have been kindly favored by Mr. J. C. G. Kennedy, of Washington, one
of his descendants, with the following extract, which was written
three years before the preceding paragraph in the Autobiography:

"'I found him [Franklin] in his little room among his papers. He
received me very politely, and immediately entered into conversation
about the western country. His room makes a singular appearance, being
filled with old philosophical instruments, papers, boxes, tables, and
stools. About ten o'clock he placed some water on the fire, but not
being expert through his great age, I desired him to give me the
pleasure of assisting him. He thanked me, and replied that he ever
made it a point to wait upon himself, and, although he began to find
himself infirm, he was determined not to increase his infirmities by
giving way to them. After the water was hot, I observed his object was
to shave himself, which operation he performed without a glass and
with great expedition. I asked him if he ever employed a barber; he
answered: "No; I think happiness does not consist so much in
particular pieces of good fortune, which perhaps occasionally fall to
a man's lot, as to be able in his old age to do those little things
which, being unable to perform himself, would be done by others with a
sparing hand."'"]

[Footnote 149: That is, he examined the accounts and managed the
financial affairs.]

[Footnote 150: The ministers of the Crown in London.]

[Footnote 151: The college in Cambridge, Harvard College.]

[Footnote 152: The commissioners of trade, who lived in England, and
to whom the colonial governors made their reports and returns. Their
duty was "to put things into a form and order of government that
should always preserve these countries in obedience to the Crown."]

[Footnote 153: A union of six of the more considerable Indian tribes.]

[Footnote 154: The power of the king.]

[Footnote 155: The government of the people.]

[Footnote 156: The squire of Don Quixote, to whom a duke jokingly
granted the government of an island for a few days. This is one of the
best-known episodes in that amusing history.]

[Footnote 157: The governors of the provinces, who were appointed by
the proprietaries (see Note 1, p. 58).]



War being in a manner commenced with France,[158] the government of
Massachusetts Bay projected an attack upon Crown Point,[159] 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,[160] he applied 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[161] from
bearing any part of the tax that would be necessary, the Assembly,
though 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.

I then suggested a method of doing the business without the governor,
by orders on the trustees of the Loan Office,[162] 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 proposed that the
orders should be payable in a year, and to bear an interest of five
per cent. With these orders I supposed the provisions might easily be
purchased. 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,[163] which being known to be more than sufficient, they
obtained instant credit, and were not only received in payment for the
provisions, but many moneyed people who had cash lying by them
invested 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 returned thanks to the Assembly in a
handsome memorial, went home highly pleased with the success of his
embassy, and ever after bore for me the most cordial and affecting

The British government, not choosing to permit the union of the
colonies as proposed 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 entertained of
them, sent over General Braddock with two regiments of regular English
troops for that purpose. He landed at Alexandria, in Virginia, and
thence marched to Fredericktown, in Maryland, where he halted for
carriages.[164] Our Assembly, apprehending from some information that
he had conceived violent prejudices against them as averse to the
service, wished 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 dispatches
between him and the governors of the several provinces, with whom he
must necessarily have continual correspondence, and of which they
proposed to pay the expense. My son accompanied me on this journey.

We found the general at Fredericktown, waiting impatiently for the
return of those he had sent through the back parts of Maryland and
Virginia to collect wagons. I stayed with him several days, dined 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 wagons to be obtained were
brought in, by which it appeared that they amounted only to
twenty-five, and not all of those were in serviceable condition. The
general and all the officers were surprised, declared the expedition
was then at an end, being impossible, and exclaimed against the
ministers[165] for ignorantly landing them in a country destitute of
the means of conveying their stores, baggage, etc., not less than one
hundred and fifty wagons being necessary.

I happened to say I thought it was pity they had not been landed
rather in Pennsylvania, as in that country almost every farmer had his
wagon. 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 asked what terms were to be
offered the owners of the wagons, and I was desired 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 prepared
immediately. What those terms were will appear in the advertisement I
published as soon as I arrived at Lancaster, which being, from the
great and sudden effect it produced, a piece of some curiosity, I
shall insert it at length as follows:


    LANCASTER, April 26, 1755.

     Whereas, one hundred and fifty wagons, with four horses to each
     wagon, 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 wagons and teams, or single horses, on the
     following terms, viz.: 1. That there shall be paid for each
     wagon, with four good horses and a driver, fifteen shillings per
     diem;[166] 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, eighteenpence 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 traveling to Will's Creek and home again
     after their discharge. 3. Each wagon and team, and every saddle
     or pack horse, is to be valued by indifferent[167] persons chosen
     between me and the owner; and in case of the loss of any wagon,
     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 wagon 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 wagons, 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 wagons 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.



     FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN: Being occasionally at the camp at
     Frederick, 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.

     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 wagons 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 wagons 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 wagon
     and four horses and a driver, may do it together, one furnishing
     the wagon, 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; wagons 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 endeavoring to do good, I shall have only my
     labor for my pains. If this method of obtaining the wagons 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,[168] 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 wellwisher,


I received of the general about eight hundred pounds, to be disbursed
in advance money to the wagon owners, etc.; but that sum being
insufficient, I advanced upward of two hundred pounds more, and in two
weeks the one hundred and fifty wagons, with two hundred and
fifty-nine carrying horses,[169] were on their march for the camp. The
advertisement promised payment according to the valuation, in case any
wagon 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,[170] 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 through a wilderness, where
nothing was to be purchased. I commiserated their case, and resolved
to endeavor 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 inclosed in my letter. The
committee approved, and used such diligence that, conducted by my son,
the stores arrived at the camp as soon as the wagons. They consisted
of twenty parcels, each containing

    6 lbs. loaf sugar,
    6 lbs. good Muscovado[171] 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 keg containing 20 lbs. good
    2 doz. old Madeira wine,
    2 gals. Jamaica spirits,
    1 bottle flour of mustard,
    2 well-cured hams,
    1/2 doz. dried tongues,
    6 lbs. rice,
    6 lbs. raisins.

These twenty parcels, well packed, were placed on as many horses, each
parcel, with the horse, being intended as a present for one officer.
They were very thankfully received, and the kindness acknowledged 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 wagons, etc., and readily paid my account of
disbursements, thanking me repeatedly, and requesting my further
assistance in sending provisions after him. I undertook this also, and
was busily employed in it till we heard of his defeat, advancing for
the service, of my own money, upward 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 returned 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

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, joined 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,"[172] says he, "I am
to proceed to Niagara; and, having taken that, to Frontenac, 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 revolved in my mind the
long line his army must make in their march by a very narrow road, to
be cut for them through 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 conceived some doubts and some fears for the event of
the campaign. But I ventured 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
attacked 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."

He smiled at my ignorance, and replied: "These savages may, indeed, be
a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the king's
regular and disciplined 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 exposed 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 had come over), and in a more open part of the
woods than any it had passed, attacked its advance guard by a 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, through wagons, baggage, and
cattle; and presently the fire came upon their flank. The officers,
being on horseback, were more easily distinguished, picked 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 seized with a panic,
the whole fled with precipitation.

The wagoners took each a horse out of his team, and scampered; their
example was immediately followed by others, so that all the wagons,
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 pursued, arrived at
Dunbar's camp, and the panic they brought with them instantly seized
him and all his people; and though 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
endeavoring to recover some of the lost honor, he ordered all the
stores, ammunition, etc., to be destroyed, that he might have more
horses to assist his flight toward 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
frontiers so as to afford some protection to the inhabitants; but he
continued his hasty march through 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.

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
through 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 continued with him to
his death, which happened 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 died 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,[173] 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.

As to rewards from himself, I asked only one, which was that he would
give orders to his officers not to enlist any more of our bought
servants,[174] and that he would discharge such as had been already
enlisted. This he readily granted, and several were accordingly
returned to their masters on my application. Dunbar, when the command
devolved on him, was not so generous. He being at Philadelphia, on his
retreat, or rather flight, I applied 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 refused to perform his
promise, to their great loss and disappointment.

As soon as the loss of the wagons 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, and
my assuring them that I had applied to that general by letter, but, he
being at a distance, an answer could not soon be received, 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 pounds,
which to pay would have ruined me.

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 seemed surprised
that I did not immediately comply with their proposal. "Why," 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 dropped, 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, continued 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
proposed amendment was only of a single word. The bill expressed 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, raised 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 formed, 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 modeling 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 through 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,[175] stating and answering all the objections I
could think of to such a militia, which was printed, and had, as I
thought, great effect.

While the several companies in the city and country were forming, and
learning their exercise, the governor prevailed with me to take charge
of our northwestern 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, though 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 raised against
Canada, was my aid-de-camp, and of great use to me. The Indians had
burned Gnadenhut, a village settled by the Moravians, and massacred
the inhabitants; but the place was thought a good situation for one of
the forts.

In order to march thither, I assembled the companies at
Bethlehem,[176] 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 placed 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
relieved[177] as methodically as in any garrison town. In conversation
with the bishop, Spangenberg, I mentioned this my surprise; for,
knowing they had obtained an act of Parliament exempting them from
military duties in the colonies, I had supposed they were
conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms. He answered 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 deceived in
themselves or deceived 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,[178] 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 thought more immediately necessary. The Moravians procured
me five wagons 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 marched 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 arrived, 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 attacked in our march, for our arms were of the most ordinary
sort, and our men could not keep their gunlocks 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 escaped informed us that his and his companions'
guns would not go off, the priming[179] being wet with the rain.

The next day being fair, we continued our march, and arrived at the
desolated Gnadenhut. There was a sawmill 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 interred by the country people.

The next morning our fort was planned and marked 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 dispatch 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 wagons, 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,[180] 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 of boards all round within, about six feet high, for the men to
stand on when to fire through the loopholes. We had one swivel
gun,[181] which we mounted on one of the angles, and fired it as soon
as fixed, 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 finished in a week, though it
rained so hard every other day that the men could not work.

This gave me occasion to observe that, when men are employed, they
are best contented; for on the days they worked they were good-natured
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 humor, 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 ventured
out in parties to scour the adjacent country. We met with no Indians,
but we found the places on the neighboring 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 discovered their position at a distance.
They had therefore dug holes in the ground about three feet in
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 observed among the weeds and grass the prints of
their bodies, made by their lying 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 managed, could not discover
them, either by its light, flame, sparks, or even smoke. It appeared
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 served 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 thought, 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 nonattendance on divine service.

I had hardly finished this business, and got my fort well stored with
provisions, when I received a letter from the governor, acquainting me
that he had called 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 completed, 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 introduced 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, wrapped only in a
blanket or two.

While at Bethlehem, I inquired a little into the practice of the
Moravians; some of them had accompanied me, and all were very kind to
me. I found they worked for a common stock,[182] 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 entertained with good music,
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 placed 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 seemed well adapted to their capacities,
and was delivered in a pleasing, familiar manner, coaxing them, as it
were, to be good. They behaved very orderly, but looked pale and
unhealthy, which made me suspect they were kept too much within doors,
or not allowed sufficient exercise.

I inquired concerning the Moravian marriages, whether the report was
true that they were by lot. I was told that lots were used only in
particular cases; that generally, when a young man found himself
disposed to marry, he informed the elders of his class, who consulted
the elder ladies that governed 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 acquiesced 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," answered my informer, "if you let the parties choose 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 chosen
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
endeavors. 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 fieldpieces,[183]
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 honor 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 chagrined 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 honor 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 rancor 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 opposed 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, though 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 prevailed with, if
possible, to post his troops on the frontiers for their protection,
till, by reënforcements 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
professed 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 dropped, and he soon after left the
government, being superseded by Captain Denny.

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.

[Footnote 158: In 1752 the French began connecting their settlements
on the Lakes and on the Mississippi by a chain of forts on the Ohio.
The English warned off the intruders upon what they deemed their
territory, and sent General Braddock to the colonists' aid. War was
declared in 1756.]

[Footnote 159: A French fort upon the west side of Lake Champlain.]

[Footnote 160: That is, he was born in Boston.]

[Footnote 161: The estate of the Penn family.]

[Footnote 162: Through which the people loaned money to the government.]

[Footnote 163: A tax or duty on certain home productions.]

[Footnote 164: Gun carriages, transport wagons, etc.]

[Footnote 165: Of the government at London, as on p. 147.]

[Footnote 166: "Per diem," i.e., a day, or per day.]

[Footnote 167: Disinterested.]

[Footnote 168: A member of the light cavalry.]

[Footnote 169: "Carrying horses," i.e., carrying packs or burdens upon
the back.]

[Footnote 170: Junior and subordinate officers.]

[Footnote 171: Muscovado sugar is brown sugar.]

[Footnote 172: Upon the site of this fort Pittsburg is built. The French
were also fortified at Niagara and at Frontenac on Lake Ontario.]

[Footnote 173: The historian and philosopher. He was born in 1711 and
died in 1776.]

[Footnote 174: "Bought servants," i.e., those whose service had been
bought for a term of years (see Note 2, p. 69).]

[Footnote 175: This dialogue and the militia act are in the
Gentleman's Magazine for February and March, 1756.]

[Footnote 176: Fifty-five miles north of Philadelphia.]

[Footnote 177: Relieved one another in military duty.]

[Footnote 178: The exact location is not known.]

[Footnote 179: The powder used to fire the charge. It was ignited by a
spark from the flintlock.]

[Footnote 180: Pole.]

[Footnote 181: "Swivel gun," i.e., a gun turning upon a swivel or
pivot in any direction.]

[Footnote 182: Fund.]

[Footnote 183: Light cannon mounted on carriages.]


In 1746, being at Boston, I met there with a Dr. Spence, who was lately
arrived from Scotland, and showed me some electric experiments. They
were imperfectly performed, as he was not very expert; but, being on a
subject quite new to me, they equally surprised and pleased me. Soon
after my return to Philadelphia, our library company received from Mr.
Collinson, Fellow of the Royal Society 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.

To divide a little this incumbrance among my friends, I caused a number
of similar tubes to be blown at our glasshouse, with which they
furnished themselves, so that we had at length several performers. Among
these, the principal was Mr. Kinnersley, an ingenious neighbor, 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 ranged in such order, and accompanied with such explanations in
such method, as that the foregoing should assist in comprehending the
following. He procured an elegant apparatus for the purpose, in which
all the little machines that I had roughly made for myself were nicely
formed by instrument makers. His lectures were well attended, and gave
great satisfaction; and after some time he went through the colonies,
exhibiting them in every capital town, and picked 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.

Obliged as we were to Mr. Collinson for his present of the tube, etc.,
I thought it right he should be informed 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, 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 advised the printing of them. Mr.
Collinson then gave them to Cave[184] 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 swelled to a quarto volume, which has had five editions, and cost
him nothing for copy money.[185]

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, a philosopher deservedly of great reputation in
France, and, indeed, all over Europe, he prevailed with M.[186]
Dalibard to translate them into French, and they were printed at
Paris. The publication offended the Abbé[187] Nollet, preceptor in
natural philosophy to the royal family and an able experimenter, who
had formed and published 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. Afterward, having been assured that there
really existed such a person as Franklin at Philadelphia, which he had
doubted, he wrote and published a volume of "Letters," chiefly
addressed to me, defending his theory, and denying the verity of my
experiments, and of the positions deduced from them.

I once purposed answering the abbé, and actually began the answer;
but, on consideration that my writings contained a description of
experiments which any one might repeat and verify, and if not to be
verified, could not be defended; or of observations offered 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 contained 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_[188] 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
engaged the public attention everywhere. M. de Lor, who had an
apparatus for experimental philosophy, and lectured 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 received 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[n] were in among the learned abroad, and of their wonder
that my writings had been so little noticed in England. The society,
on this, resumed 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 afterward 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,[189] 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 honor, they chose me a
member, and voted that I should be excused 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 for the year 1753, the delivery of
which was accompanied by a very handsome speech of the president, Lord
Macclesfield, wherein I was highly honored.

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 engaged in drinking, he took me aside
into another room, and acquainted me that he had been advised 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 toward 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 continued to his measures was
dropped, and harmony restored 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. 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 favors 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 proposed 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
instructions his predecessor had been hampered with.

On this he did not then explain himself; but when he afterward came to
do business with the Assembly, they appeared 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
published. 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 James Ralph was still alive; that he
was esteemed one of the best political writers in England; had been
employed in the dispute between Prince Frederic and the king, and had
obtained a pension of three hundred a year; that his reputation was
indeed small as a poet, Pope having damned his poetry in the
"Dunciad," but his prose was thought as good as any man's.

The Assembly, finally finding the proprietary obstinately persisted in
manacling their deputies[190] with instructions inconsistent not only
with the privileges of the people but with the service of the Crown,
resolved 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 refused to pass, in compliance with his

[Footnote 184: The publisher, Edward Cave (1691-1754), was the founder
of the Gentleman's Magazine, the earliest literary journal of the kind.]

[Footnote 185: "Copy money," i.e., money paid for the copy or article.]

[Footnote 186: Monsieur.]

[Footnote 187: A title formerly assumed in France by a class of men
who had slight connections with the church, and were employed as
teachers or engaged in some literary pursuit.]

[Footnote 188: Pupil.]

[Footnote 189: The iron rod was on the kite which Franklin flew in a
thunderstorm in 1752. A hemp cord conducted the electricity to a key
near his hand, and from this he received the shock which proved the
truth of his theory that lightning and electricity are one and the

[Footnote 190: See Note 2, p. 151.]


I had agreed with Captain Morris, of the packet[191] at New York, for
my passage, and my stores were put on board, when Lord Loudoun arrived
at Philadelphia, expressly, as he told me, to endeavor an
accommodation between the governor and Assembly, that his Majesty's
service might not be obstructed by their dissensions. Accordingly, he
desired 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 disobeyed, yet seemed not unwilling to hazard himself if Lord
Loudoun would advise it. This his lordship did not choose to do,
though I once thought I had nearly prevailed with him to do it; but
finally he rather chose to urge the compliance of the Assembly, and he
entreated me to use my endeavors 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 exposed to the enemy.

I acquainted the House with what had passed, and, presenting them with
a set of resolutions I had drawn up, declaring our rights, and that we
did not relinquish our claims to those rights, but only suspended the
exercise of them on this occasion through 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 passed, and I was then at liberty to proceed on my voyage.
But, in the mean time, 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_,[192] 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 sailed. 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 arrived; she too was
detained; and, before we sailed, a fourth was expected. Ours was the
first to be dispatched, 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
availed 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 occasioned
my inquiry when he was to return, and where he lodged, that I might
send some letters by him. He told me he was ordered 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 returned,
Innis?" "Returned! 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[193]
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.

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 obliged to procure more. At
length the fleet sailed, the general and all his army on board, bound
to Louisburg,[194] with 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 afterward in London Captain Bonnell, who commanded one of those
packets. He told me that, when he had been detained 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 obtained leave, though detained
afterward from day to day during full three months.

I saw also in London one of Bonnell's passengers, who was so enraged
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 wondered much how such a man came to be intrusted 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, though 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 exposed, while he paraded idly at Halifax, by which means Fort
George was lost. Besides, he deranged all our mercantile operations,
and distressed our trade, by a long embargo[195] on the exportation of
provisions, on pretense of keeping supplies from being obtained by the
enemy, but in reality for beating down their price in favor 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 Charleston, the Carolina fleet was
detained near three months longer, whereby their bottoms were so much
damaged by the worm[196] that a great part of them foundered in their
passage home.

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, though 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 mentioned, detained at New York, I received all
the accounts of the provisions, etc., that I had furnished to Braddock,
some of which accounts could not sooner be obtained from the different
persons I had employed to assist in the business. I presented them to
Lord Loudoun, desiring to be paid the balance. He caused 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 promised to give me an order on the
paymaster. This was, however, put off from time to time; and, though I
called 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 mentioned, but without effect, the great and unexpected expense I
had been put to by being detained 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 advanced, 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 assured him that was not my case, and that I had
not pocketed a farthing, but he appeared clearly not to believe me;
and, indeed, I have since learned 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 packet 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, gained upon us, the captain
ordered all hands to come aft, and stand as near the ensign staff[197]
as possible. We were, passengers included, about forty persons. While
we stood there, the ship mended her pace, and soon left her neighbor
far behind, which proved clearly what our captain suspected, that she
was loaded too much by the head. The casks of water, it seems, had
been all placed forward; these he therefore ordered to be moved
farther aft, on which the ship recovered 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, that no ship ever sailed so fast, and that there must have
been some error in the division of the log line,[198] or some mistake
in heaving the log. A wager ensued between the two captains, to be
decided when there should be sufficient wind. Kennedy thereupon
examined rigorously the log line, and, being satisfied with that, he
determined to throw the log himself. Accordingly, some days after,
when the wind blew very fair and fresh, and the captain of the packet,
Lutwidge, said he believed she then went at the rate of thirteen
knots, Kennedy made the experiment, and owned his wager lost.

The above fact I give for the sake of the following observation. It
has been remarked, 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 followed in a new one, which has proved, on the
contrary, remarkably dull. I apprehend that this may partly be
occasioned 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 formed, fitted for the sea, and
sailed 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
observed different judgments in the officers who commanded the
successive watches,[199] the wind being the same. One would have the
sails trimmed sharper or flatter than another, so that they seemed 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 combined would be of great use. I am persuaded, therefore,
that ere long some ingenious philosopher will undertake it, to whom I
wish success.

We were several times chased[200] in our passage, but outsailed
everything, and in thirty days had soundings.[201] We had a good
observation,[202] and the captain judged 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,[203] who often
cruised 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, shaped his course, as he thought, so as to pass wide
of the Scilly Isles; but it seems there is sometimes a strong
indraught[204] 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 placed in the bow, to whom they often called, "Look
well out before there," and he as often answered, "Ay, ay;" but
perhaps he 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[205]
from the man at the helm, and from the rest of the watch, but by an
accidental yaw of the ship was discovered and occasioned a great
alarm, we being very near it, the light appearing to me as big as a
cart wheel. 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 of 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 seemed to be lifted up from the
water like the curtain at a playhouse, 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 occasioned.

I set out immediately, with my son, for London, and we only stopped a
little by the way to view Stonehenge 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.[206]

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 advised to obtain. He was
against an immediate complaint to government, and thought the
proprietaries should first be personally applied to, who might possibly
be induced 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, 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 received 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."

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 assured me I was totally
mistaken. I did not think so, however, and his lordship's conversation
having a little alarmed me as to what might be the sentiments of the
court concerning us, I wrote it down as soon as I returned to my
lodgings. I recollected that about twenty years before, a clause in a
bill brought into Parliament by the ministry had proposed 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 toward us in 1765 it seemed that they had
refused that point of sovereignty to the king only that they might
reserve it for themselves.

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 justified 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 promised 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 neighboring proprietary of
Maryland, Lord Baltimore, which had subsisted seventy years, and who
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 declined the proprietaries' proposal that he and I should
discuss the heads of complaint between our two selves, and refused
treating with any one 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
learned, 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 candor" to treat with them for that purpose,
intimating thereby that I was not such.

The want of formality, or rudeness, was, probably, my not having
addressed the paper to them with their assumed 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_.[207]

But during this delay, the Assembly having prevailed with Governor
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, counseled 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 employed by them against the act,
and two by me in support of it. They alleged that the act was intended
to load the proprietary estate in order to spare those of the people,
and that if it were suffered 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
replied 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, one hundred thousand pounds,
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 answered, "None at all." He then
called 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 signed 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
inquiry, they unanimously signed a report that they found the tax had
been assessed with perfect equity.

The Assembly looked upon 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 returned. But the proprietaries
were enraged at Governor Denny for having passed the act, and turned
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, despised the threats, and they were never
put in execution.

[Footnote 191: A vessel starting at some set time and conveying
letters and passengers from country to country.]

[Footnote 192: Between ourselves.]

[Footnote 193: William Pitt (1708-78). See Macaulay's Essay on the
Earl of Chatham (Eclectic English Classics, American Book Company).]

[Footnote 194: A possession of the French in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
It was taken by the English in 1758.]

[Footnote 195: A prohibition to prevent ships leaving port.]

[Footnote 196: The worm which eats into the wood bottoms of ships.]

[Footnote 197: "Ensign staff," i.e., flagstaff.]

[Footnote 198: The log line is a line fastened to the log-chip, by
which, when it is thrown over the side of a vessel, the rate of speed
is found.]

[Footnote 199: A watch is a certain part of a vessel's officers and
crew who have the care and working of her for a period of time,
commonly for four hours.]

[Footnote 200: By French vessels.]

[Footnote 201: Measurements of the depth of the water with a plummet
and line.]

[Footnote 202: Of the sun's altitude in order to calculate the
latitude (see Note 2, p. 77).]

[Footnote 203: Vessels armed and officered by private persons, but
acting under a commission from government.]

[Footnote 204: An inward current.]

[Footnote 205: Studding sails are sails set between the edges of the
chief square sails during a fair wind.]

[Footnote 206: "Here terminates the Autobiography, as published by
William Temple Franklin and his successors. What follows was written
the last year of Dr. Franklin's life, and was never before printed in
English."--BIGELOW'S _Autobiography of Franklin_, 1868, p. 350, note.]

[Footnote 207: By word of mouth.]



     "MY DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND: I have often been desirous of
     writing to thee, but could not be reconciled to the thought that
     the letter might fall into the hands of the British, lest some
     printer or busybody should publish some part of the contents, and
     give our friend pain, and myself censure.

     "Some time since there fell into my hands, to my great joy, about
     twenty-three sheets in thy own handwriting, containing an account
     of the parentage and life of thyself, directed to thy son, ending
     in the year 1730; with which there were notes, likewise in thy
     writing; a copy of which I inclose, in hopes it may be a means,
     if thou continued it up to a later period, that the first and
     latter part may be put together; and if it is not yet continued,
     I hope thee will not delay it. Life is uncertain, as the preacher
     tells us; and what will the world say if kind, humane, and
     benevolent Ben. Franklin should leave his friends and the world
     deprived of so pleasing and profitable a work; a work which would
     be useful and entertaining not only to a few, but to millions?
     The influence writings under that class have on the minds of
     youth is very great, and has nowhere appeared to me so plain as
     in our public friend's journals. It almost insensibly leads the
     youth into the resolution of endeavoring to become as good and
     eminent as the journalist. Should thine, for instance, when
     published (and I think it could not fail of it), lead the youth
     to equal the industry and temperance of thy early youth, what a
     blessing with that class would such a work be! I know of no
     character living, nor many of them put together, who has so much
     in his power as thyself to promote a greater spirit of industry
     and early attention to business, frugality, and temperance with
     the American youth. Not that I think the work would have no other
     merit and use in the world--far from it; but the first is of such
     vast importance that I know nothing that can equal it."

The other letter, from Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, gave similar advice.



COURTEOUS READER: I have heard that nothing gives an author so great
pleasure as to find his works respectfully quoted by other learned
authors. This pleasure I have seldom enjoyed; for, though I have been,
if I may say it without vanity, an eminent author (of almanacs)
annually, now a full quarter of a century, my brother authors in the
same way, for what reason I know not, have ever been very sparing in
their applauses and no other author has taken the least notice of me;
so that, did not my writings produce me some solid pudding, the great
deficiency of praise would have quite discouraged me.

I concluded at length that the people were the best judges of my merit,
for they buy my works; and, besides, in my rambles where I am not
personally known, I have frequently heard one or other of my adages
repeated with "As Poor Richard says" at the end of it. This gave me some
satisfaction, as it showed not only that my instructions were regarded,
but discovered likewise some respect for my authority; and I own that,
to encourage the practice of remembering and reading those wise
sentences, I have sometimes quoted myself with great gravity.

Judge, then, how much I must have been gratified by an incident I am
going to relate to you. I stopped my horse lately where a great number
of people were collected at an auction of merchants' goods. The hour
of the sale not being come, they were conversing on the badness of the
times; and one of the company called to a plain, clean old man with
white locks, "Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the times? Will
not these heavy taxes quite ruin the country? How shall we ever be
able to pay them? What would you advise us to do?" Father Abraham
stood up and replied, "If you would have my advice, I will give it to
you in short; for A word to the wise is enough, as Poor Richard says."
They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and gathering round
him, he proceeded as follows:

"Friends," said he, "the taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those
laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might
more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more
grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness,
three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly;
and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by
allowing an abatement. However, let us hearken to good advice, and
something may be done for us; God helps them that help themselves, as
Poor Richard says.

I. "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; 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 is 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, be 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; 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. Drive thy business, let not that drive
thee; and, Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy,
wealthy, and wise, as Poor Richard says.

"So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We make these
times better if we bestir ourselves. Industry need not wish, and he
that lives upon hopes will die fasting. There are no gains without
pains; then help, hands, for I have no lands; or, if I have, they are
smartly taxed. He that hath a trade hath an estate; and he that hath a
calling, hath an office of profit and honor, as Poor Richard says; but
then the trade must be worked at and the calling followed, or neither
the estate nor the office will enable us to pay our taxes. If we are
industrious, we shall never starve; for, At the workingman's house
hunger looks in, but dares not enter. Nor will the bailiff or the
constable enter; for Industry pays debts, while Despair increaseth
them. What though you have found no treasure, nor has any rich
relation left you a legacy; Diligence is the mother of good luck, and
God gives all things to Industry. Then plow deep while sluggards
sleep, and you shall have corn to sell and to keep. Work while it is
called to-day, for you know not how much you may be hindered
to-morrow. One to-day is worth two to-morrows, as Poor Richard says;
and, further, Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day.
If you were a good 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, when there is so much to be done for
yourself, your family, your country, your kin. Handle your tools
without mittens; remember that The cat in gloves catches no mice, as
Poor Richard says. It is true there is much to be done, and perhaps
you are weak-handed; but 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; for, A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.
Many, without labor, would live by their wits only, but they break for
want of stock; whereas industry gives comfort and plenty and respect.
Fly pleasures and they will follow you. The diligent spinner has a large
shift; and now I have a sheep and a cow, every one bids me good morrow.

II. "But with our industry we must likewise be steady and careful, and
oversee our own affairs with our own eyes, and not trust too much to
others; for, as Poor Richard says:

    I never saw an oft-removed tree,
    Nor yet an oft-removed family,
    That throve so well as those that settled be.

And again, Three removes are as bad as a fire; and again, Keep thy
shop, and thy shop will keep thee; and again, If you would have your
business done, go; if not, send; and again:

    He that by the plow would thrive,
    Himself must either hold or drive.

And again, The eye of the master will do more work than both his
hands; and again, Want of care does us more damage than want of
knowledge; and again, Not to oversee workmen is to leave them your
purse open. Trusting too much to others' care is the ruin of many;
for, In the affairs of this world men are saved, not by faith, but by
the want of it. But a man's own care is profitable; for, If you would
have a faithful servant and one that you like, serve yourself. A
little neglect may breed great mischief; 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 want of a little care about a horseshoe nail.

III. "So much for industry, my friends, and attention to one's own
business; but to these we must add frugality, if we would make our
industry more certainly successful. A man may, if he knows not how to
save as he gets, keep his nose all his life to the grindstone, and die
not worth a groat at last. A fat kitchen makes a lean will; and

    Many estates are spent in the getting,
    Since women forsook spinning and knitting,
    And men for punch forsook hewing and splitting.

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting. The
Indies have not made Spain rich, because her outgoes are greater than
her incomes.

"Away, then, with your expensive follies, and you will not then have
so much cause to complain of hard times, heavy taxes, and chargeable
families; for

    Pleasure and wine, game and deceit,
    Make the wealth small, and the want great.

And further, 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, Many a
little makes a mickle. Beware of little expenses; A small leak will sink
a great ship, as Poor Richard says; and again, Who dainties love shall
beggars prove; and moreover, Fools make feasts and wise men eat them.

"Here you are all got together at this sale of fineries and
knick-knacks. You call them goods; but, if you do not take care, they
will prove evils to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap,
and perhaps they may for less than they cost; but, if you have no
occasion for them, they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor
Richard says: Buy what thou hast no need of, and ere long thou shalt
sell thy necessaries. And again, At a great pennyworth pause awhile.
He means that perhaps the cheapness is apparent only, and not real;
or, the bargain, by straitening thee in thy business, may do thee more
harm than good. For in another place he says, Many have been ruined by
buying good pennyworths. Again, It is foolish to lay out money in a
purchase of repentance; and yet this folly is practiced every day at
auctions for want of minding the Almanac.[208] Many for the sake of
finery on the back have gone hungry and half-starved their families.
Silks and satins, scarlet and velvets, put out the kitchen fire, as
Poor Richard says.

"These are not the necessaries of life; they can scarcely be called
the conveniences; and yet, only because they look pretty, how many
want to have them. By these and other extravagances the genteel are
reduced to poverty, and forced to borrow of those whom they formerly
despised, but who, through industry and frugality, have maintained
their standing; in which case it appears plainly that, A plowman on
his legs is higher than a gentleman on his knees, as Poor Richard
says. Perhaps they have a small estate left them which they knew not
the getting of; they think, It is day and it never will be night; that
a little to be spent out of so much is not worth minding; but, Always
taking out of the meal tub and never putting in, soon comes to the
bottom, as Poor Richard says; and then, When the well is dry, they
know the worth of water. But this they might have known before, if
they had taken his advice. If you would know the value of money, go
and try to borrow some; for, He that goes a-borrowing goes
a-sorrowing, as Poor Richard says; and, indeed, so does he that lends
to such people, when he goes to get it in again. Poor Dick further
advises and says:

    Fond pride of dress is sure a very curse;
    Ere fancy you consult, consult your purse.

And again, Pride is as loud a beggar as Want, and a great deal more
saucy. When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more,
that your appearance may be all of a piece; but Poor Dick says, It is
easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow
it. And it is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the
frog to swell in order to equal the ox.

    Vessels large may venture more,
    But little boats should keep near shore.

It is, however, a folly soon punished; for, as Poor Richard says,
Pride that dines on vanity, sups on contempt. Pride breakfasted with
Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy. And, after all, of
what use is this pride of appearance, for which so much is risked, so
much is suffered? It cannot promote health nor ease pain; it makes no
increase of merit in the person; it creates envy; it hastens misfortune.

"But what madness must it be to run in debt for these superfluities?
We are offered by the terms of this sale six months' credit; and that,
perhaps, has induced some of us to attend it, because we cannot spare
the ready money, and hope now to be fine without it. But ah! think
what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your
liberty. If you cannot pay at the time, you will be ashamed to see
your creditor; you will be in fear when you speak to him; you will
make poor, pitiful, sneaking excuses, and by degrees come to lose your
veracity, and sink into base, downright lying; for, The second vice is
lying, the first is running in debt, as Poor Richard says; and again
to the same purpose, Lying rides upon debt's back; whereas a freeborn
Englishman ought not to be ashamed nor afraid to see or speak to any
man living. But poverty often deprives a man of all spirit and virtue.
It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright.

"What would you think of that prince, or of that government, who
should issue an edict forbidding you to dress like a gentleman or
gentlewoman, on pain of imprisonment or servitude? Would you not say
that you are free, have a right to dress as you please, and that such
an edict would be a breach of your privileges and such a government
tyrannical? And yet you are about to put yourself under such tyranny,
when you run in debt for such dress. Your creditor has authority, at
his pleasure, to deprive you of your liberty by confining you in jail
till you shall be able to pay him. When you have got your bargain,
you may, perhaps, think little of payment; but, as Poor Richard says,
Creditors have better memories than debtors; creditors are a
superstitious sect, great observers of set days and times. The day
comes round before you are aware, and the demand is made before you
are prepared to satisfy it; or, if you bear your debt in mind, the
term, which at first seemed so long, will, as it lessens, appear
extremely short. Time will seem to have added wings to his heels as
well as his shoulders. Those have a short Lent who owe money to be
paid at Easter. At present, perhaps, you may think yourselves in
thriving circumstances, and that you can bear a little extravagance
without injury; but

    For age and want save while you may;
    No morning sun lasts a whole day.

Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever, while you live, expense
is constant and certain; and, It is easier to build two chimneys than
to keep one in fuel, as Poor Richard says; so, Rather go to bed
supperless than rise in debt.

    Get what you can, and what you get, hold,
    'Tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold.

And when you have got the philosopher's stone, be sure you will no
longer complain of bad times or the difficulty of paying taxes.

IV. "This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but, after all,
do not depend too much upon your own industry and frugality and
prudence, though excellent things; for they may all be blasted,
without the blessing of Heaven; and, therefore, ask that blessing
humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at present seem to want
it, but comfort and help them. Remember Job suffered, and was
afterward prosperous.

"And now, to conclude, Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will
learn in no other, as Poor Richard says, and scarce in that; for, it
is true, we may give advice, but we cannot give conduct. However,
remember this: They that will not be counseled cannot be helped; and
further that, If you will not hear Reason, she will surely rap your
knuckles, as Poor Richard says."

Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and
approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just
as if it had been a common sermon; for the auction opened and they
began to buy extravagantly. I found the good man had thoroughly
studied my almanacs, and digested all I had dropped on these topics
during the course of twenty-five years. The frequent mention he made
of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully
delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the
wisdom was my own which he ascribed to me, but rather the gleanings
that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations. However, I
resolved to be the better for the echo of it; and, though I had at
first determined to buy stuff for a new coat, I went away resolved to
wear my old one a little longer. Reader, if thou wilt do the same, thy
profit will be as great as mine. I am, as ever, thine to serve thee,


[Footnote 208: Poor Richard's maxims in the Almanac.]


The noblest question in the world is, What good may I do in it?

The masterpiece of man is to live to the purpose.

The nearest way to come at glory is to do that for conscience which we
do for glory.

Do not do that which you would not have known.

Well done is better than well said.

Who has deceived thee so oft as thyself?

Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.

He that can have patience, can have what he will.

After crosses and losses men grow humbler and wiser.

In a discreet man's mouth a public thing is private.

Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.

No better relation than a prudent and faithful friend.

He that can compose himself is wiser than he that composes books.

He that can take rest is greater than he that can take cities.

None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or
acknowledge himself in error.

Read much, but not too many books.

None preaches better than the ant, and she says nothing.

Forewarned, forearmed.

    To whom thy secret thou dost tell,
    To him thy freedom thou dost sell.

Don't misinform your doctor or your lawyer.

He that pursues two hens at once, does not catch one and lets the
other go.

The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise.

There are no gains without pains.

If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher's

Every little makes a mickle.

He that can travel well a-foot keeps a good horse.

He is no clown that drives the plow, but he that doth clownish things.


Though he did not consider himself a man of letters, Franklin was
throughout his long life a writer. His writing was incidental to his
business as a journalist and statesman. He also corresponded widely
with various classes of people. Fortunately many of these writings
have been preserved, and from these and the _Autobiography_ a number
of valuable lives have been written. The student will find pleasure in
referring to the Franklin volumes of the American Statesmen Series and
of the American Men of Letters Series. The three volume life by Mr.
John Bigelow and the one volume, _The Many-sided Franklin_, by Paul
Leicester Ford, will supply the years of Franklin's life not included
in his autobiography, the writing of which was several times
interrupted by public business of the greatest importance, and finally
cut short by the long illness that preceded his death.

Read the pages devoted to Franklin in Brander Matthews' _Introduction
to American Literature_. Matthews says of him, "He was the first great
American--for Washington was twenty-six years younger." "He was the
only man who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of
Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with England, and the
Constitution under which we still live."

As you read Franklin's pages be on the alert for material to support
Mr. Matthews' statement, "Franklin was the first of American
humorists, and to this day he has not been surpassed in his own line."
Will one of you report to the class on "Franklin's Humor"?

Franklin was far in advance of his times on many questions. In 1783,
when concluding the Treaty of Peace with England, he tried to secure the
adoption of a clause protecting the property of non-belligerents in
subsequent wars. England would not accept this advanced idea, but
Frederick II of Prussia agreed to it, and since that time all civilized
governments have united in embodying it in the Law of Nations.

Franklin was one of the first and, in proportion to his means, one of
the greatest of American philanthropists. He said that he had "a trick
for doing a deal of good with a little money." In lending some money
to one who had applied to him for assistance, he instructed the
borrower to pass it on to some one else in distress as soon as he
could afford to repay it. "I hope it may thus go through many hands,
before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress."

Mr. Bigelow's Life of Franklin reproduces the philosopher's exact
spelling. He was one of the early spelling reformers. See his
"Petition of the Letter Z," p. 116, _The Many-sided Franklin_.

       *       *       *       *       *

(_In the following notes the numerals refer to the pages of the text._)

=Page 17.= "Ecton, in Northamptonshire." In 1657 George Washington's
grandfather emigrated to Virginia from this same English county.

"Franklin, ... an order of people." Do you recall one of the titles of
Cedric, the Saxon, in Scott's _Ivanhoe_?

=27.= Notice his judgment regarding controversy. It will be
profitable, from time to time, to consider his remarks as throwing
light on the subject, "Franklin, a Manager of Men."

=28.= Read carefully the paragraph opening with a reference to _The
Spectator_, and using Franklin's method, reproduce that paragraph.
Apply this method to other good English selections and try to adapt it
to your translations from other languages.

As you read Franklin's account of his self-education, ask yourself
what quality it is in the student that gives best assurance of final
success in securing a real education.

=34.= Is Franklin's use of the word "demeaned" good?

=37.= In his reference to Bunyan and Defoe, Franklin proves himself
one of the first critics to recognize those writers as the fathers of
the modern novel.

=38.= "Our acquaintance continued as long as he lived." Few men have
placed a higher value on friends than did Franklin. He took the
trouble necessary to make friends and to keep them.

=61.= Read parts of Young's _Night Thoughts_.

=77.= Carefully observe the plan of the Junto and its subordinate
branches, and consider the value of such organizations for yourself and
friends. By referring to Bigelow's Life of Franklin, Vol. I, p, 185, you
will find detailed information concerning the rules of the Junto.

=81.= Years later, while in London in 1773, Franklin showed his
ability with his pen and put through a successful journalistic hoax.
He published in _The Public Advertiser_ what was for a time accepted
by many as an authentic edict of the King of Prussia. In this the king
held that the English were German colonists settled in Britain, and
that they should be taxed for the benefit of the Prussian coffers.

What claims were the English making in 1773? By looking through other
lives of Franklin, you may find an account of another literary hoax by
which he helped the American cause.

=86.= Franklin's original determination to secure money with his wife
should be judged by the standards of his time.

=89.= Beginning with the establishment of the Philadelphia public
library, keep a list of Franklin's plans and achievements for the
public good.

=92.= The high honors accorded to Franklin by foreign nations have
never been extended to any other American, with the possible exception
of Theodore Roosevelt.

=101.= "Address Powerful Goodness." Thomas Paine submitted the
manuscript of his _Age of Reason_ to Franklin for criticism. Franklin
advised him to burn it and concluded, "If men are so wicked with
religion, what would they be _without it_?"

A facsimile of Franklin's motion for prayers in the Federal Convention
of 1787, when agreement on the Constitution seemed hopeless, will be
found on page 168 of _The Many-sided Franklin_. The convention, though
much given to acting on Franklin's advice, was all but unanimous in
defeating this motion.

=111.= Franklin's boyhood debate on the subject of the education of
young women is reflected here as a settled conviction.

=113.= The great scholar and historian, Gibbon, agreed with Franklin
concerning the languages.

=115.= "Inoculation." Will you volunteer to make a report to the class
on inoculation and vaccination? The two combine in making one of the
most interesting chapters in the history of medical science.

=117.= You will be interested in comparing the constable's watch of
ragamuffins with the watch in Shakespeare's _Much Ado About Nothing_.

=118.= In many towns and cities there is much of interest connected
with the fire department. "The History of Our Fire Department," "Fire
Fighting," and many other subjects may suggest themselves to you for
written or oral reports. Possibly some one in the class may be able to
tell in this connection how Crassus, the friend of Julius Cæsar,
gained a great part of his wealth.

=119.= Have you read of the work of Whitefield and his associates in
England? See "The Methodist Movement" in Halleck's _History of English
Literature_, or in some good English history.

=132.= Your classmates will be interested in a report on the Franklin
stove. Make some simple drawings to illustrate its principles.

=141.= Find out definitely what system of street cleaning prevails in
your home town. Write a feature article on that system, as if for a
magazine. Some member of the class who has a camera will secure
illustrations for you. Also write an editorial for a newspaper, an
editorial inspired by the disclosures of the feature article.

=175.= Will several of you take up the subject of "Franklin's
Electrical Experiments" and make reports to the class?

=185.= Notice Franklin's alertness in suggesting the application of
scientific methods to practical affairs. Do you think that Emerson's
definition of "genius" as given in the first paragraph of his essay on
"Self-Reliance" can be justly applied to Franklin?

You will be interested in following Franklin's experiments in
determining the value of oil in stilling the waves, and also his
investigations of the Gulf Stream and of the nature of storms. He
asked, "What signifies philosophy that does not apply to some use?"
Yet he had a wonderful imagination back of his practical nature.

Emerson says that the chief use of a book is to inspire. On this basis
how do you rank the _Autobiography_ in usefulness?


  =Addison's= Sir Roger de Coverley Papers (Underwood)

  =Arnold's= Sohrab and Rustum (Tanner)

  =Bunyan's= Pilgrim's Progress (Jones and Arnold)

  =Burke's= Conciliation with America (Clark)
     Speeches at Bristol (Bergin)

  =Burns's= Poems--Selections (Venable)

  =Byron's= Childe Harold (Canto IV), Prisoner of Chillon, Mazeppa,
       and other Selections (Venable)

  =Carlyle's= Essay on Burns (Miller)

  =Chaucer's= Prologue and Knighte's Tale (Van Dyke)

  =Coleridge's= Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Garrigues)

  =Cooper's= Pilot (Watrous)
     The Spy (Barnes)

  =Defoe's= History of the Plague in London (Syle)
     Robinson Crusoe (Stephens)

  =De Quincey's= Revolt of the Tartars

  =Dickens's= Christmas Carol and Cricket on the Hearth (Wannamaker)
     Tale of Two Cities (Pearce)

  =Dryden's= Palamon and Arcite (Bates)

  =Eliot's= Silas Marner (McKitrick)

  =Emerson's= American Scholar, Self-Reliance, Compensation

  =Franklin's= Autobiography (Reid)

  =Goldsmith's= Vicar of Wakefield (Hansen)
     Deserted Village (See Gray's Elegy)

  =Gray's= Elegy in a Country Churchyard, and =Goldsmith's= Deserted
       Village (Van Dyke)

  =Hughes's= Tom Brown's School Days (Gosling).

  =Irving's= Sketch Book--Selections (St. John)
  Tales of a Traveler (Rutland)

  =Lincoln's= Addresses and Letters (Moores)
     Address at Cooper Union (See =Macaulay's= Speeches on Copyright)

  =Macaulay's= Essay on Addison (Matthews)
     Essay on Milton (Mead)
     Essays on Lord Clive and Warren Hastings
     Lays of Ancient Rome and other Poems (Atkinson)
     Life of Johnson (Lucas)
     Speeches on Copyright, and Lincoln's Address at Cooper
       Union (Pittenger)

  =Milton's= L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, Comus, Lycidas (Buck)
     Paradise Lost. Books I and II (Stephens)

  =Old Ballads= (Morton).

  =Old Testament Narratives= (Baldwin)

  =Poe's= Selected Poems and Tales (Stott)

  =Pope's= Homer's Iliad. Books I, VI, XXII, and XXIV
       Rape of the Lock and Essay on Man (Van Dyke)

  =Ruskin's= Sesame and Lilies (Rounds)

  =Scott's= Abbot
     Ivanhoe (Schreiber)
     Lady of the Lake (Bacon)
     Marmion (Coblentz)
     Quentin Durward (Norris)

  =Shakespeare's= As You Like It (North)
     Hamlet (Shower)
     Henry V (Law)
     Julius Cæsar (Baker)
     Macbeth (Livengood)
     Merchant of Venice (Blakely)
     Midsummer Night's Bream (Haney)
     The Tempest (Barley)
     Twelfth Night (Weld)

  =Southey's= Life of Nelson

  =Stevenson's= Inland Voyage and Travels with a Donkey
     Treasure Island (Fairley)

  =Swift's= Gulliver's Travels (Gaston)

  =Tennyson's= Idylls of the King--Selections (Willard)
     Princess (Shryock)

  =Thackeray's= Henry Esmond (Bissell)

  =Washington's= Farewell Address, and =Webster's= First Bunker
       Hill Oration (Lewis)

  =Webster's= Bunker Hill Orations (See also Washington's
       Farewell Address)

  =Wordsworth's= Poems--Selections (Venable)

Transcriber's Note

    * Obvious punctuation and spelling errors repaired.

    * Footnotes moved to the end of the appropriate chapters.

    * Text enclosed between equal signs was in bold face in the
      original (=bold=).

    * Notes [n] are at the end of the book as originally published.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Franklin's Autobiography - (Eclectic English Classics)" ***

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