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would soon deservedly be at the head of his profession in that city, and accordingly he urged the youth to set up for himself, with many promises of support. At his instigation, Franklin paid a visit to his family at Boston, in order to obtain an advance of money for his project, but though he was kindly received, he was unable to gain his point. Upon his return to Philadelphia, the governor offered to take the whole burden upon himself, and proposed to the young man to make a voyage to England, in order to furnish himself with all the necessaries of a new printing-office. Franklin gladly embraced the proposal, and set sail towards the close of 1724; accompanied by his intimate companion, Ralph, who afterwards became a political writer in England of considerable note, and is commemorated in the Dunciad. Before his departure from America, Franklin exchanged promises of fidelity with Miss Read, having lodged in her father's house, for a considerable period..
FIRST VISIT TO ENGLAND.-I724.
No sooner did Franklin arrive in London, than he discovered that Sir William Keith, upon whose assurances of letters of credit, and recommendation he so implicitly relied, had entirely deceived him. It is in a strain of very impartial and manly forbearance that he speaks of Sir William's conduct and character. “What shall we think,” says he, “of a governor so grossly imposing 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, whose instructions he sometimes disregarded. Several of our best laws were of his planning, and passed during his administration."
On arriving in the British metropolis, and finding himself so cruelly disappointed, Franklin was obliged to have recourse to the business he had learnt for a support; so that, having been introduced to that country whose very throne he was destined to shake, our young philosopher obtained employment at one Palmer's, a considerable printer in Bartholomew Close. His friend Ralph, whose dependence was upon his head, did not so readily get work, and was a heavy drain upon Franklin's earnings, The morals of the two did not improve from their society. Ralph forgot his wife and child in America, and the other in a great
measure, gave up all recollections of Miss Read.
He has candidly marked this as one of his errors ; to which he has added, as another, the printing “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure, and Pain,” dedicated to Ralph, and intended as an answer to some of the arguments of Woollaston's "Religion of Nature,” which passed through his hands at the press. The metaphysical piece, however, gained him some fame, and introduced him to the acquaintance among others, of Dr. Mandeville, author of the celebrated " Fable of the Bees.” In whatever other virtues Franklin might be defective, he still retained in a high degree those of industry, and temperanco, which eventually were the means of securing his morals, as well as raising his fortune. He has left a curious and instructive account of his endeavours, at the second printing office in which he was employed while in London (Watt's near Lincoln's-inn-fields), to reform the sottish habits of his fellow-workmen. He attempted to persuade them there was more real sustenance in a penny roll, than in a pint of porter; and though he was at first stigmatized by the name of the “Water-American," he was able in the end to induce several of them to substitute gruel and toasted bread as a breakfast, in place of their usual morning libations from the tankard. They who are acquainted with the habits of the London artificers-especially printers—will consider this Do small proof of his persuasive powers and tact.
The young printer taught some of his English friends to swim, at twice going into the water. On one occasion at the request of the company along with which he had gone up the Thames, he leaped into ihe river and swam from near Chelsea to Blackfriars, performing in the way many feats of activity, both upon and under the water, that surprised and pleased those to whom they were novelties.” He had from a child been delighted with this exercise, had studied and practised Thevenot's motions and positions, and added some of his own,
' aiming at the graceful and easy, as well as the useful.” The feat between Chelsea and Blackfriars having come to the ear of Sir William Wyndham, that gentleman went for the young printer, being desirous to have his two sons, who were on the point of setting out on their travels, previously taught to swim, and offering a very liberal reward, if Franklin would undertake to instruct them. They were not, however, yet arrived in town, and the stay which Franklin should have to make was uncertain; so that in consequence of a previous engage ment, to be fulfilled in America, he could not accept of the baronet's
proposal. The autobiographer nevertheless was led to suppose from this incident, that if he had wished to remain in London, and open a swimming-school, he should perhaps have earned a great deal of money. This idea struck him so forcibly that had the offer been made sooner, he should have dismissed the thought of returning as yet to America. Some years after he had something of more importance to transact with one of the sons of Sir William Wyndham, then Earl of Egremont. Connected with the subject of swimming, it may here be mentioned that our young philosopher, frequently used a kite, when a boy, as a sort of sail for the human body. Swimming he calls a kind of rowing with the arms and legs; and the addition of a sail, as he terms it, was suggested by his approaching a pond, while flying a kite on a summer's day. He fancied it possible to cross in this manner from Dover to Calais, but observes that “the packet is still preferable.”
QUITS ENGLAND AND SETTLES IN PHILADELPHIA. AFTER an abode of some eighteen months in London, Franklin set sail for Philadelphia, where he had found an engagement to act in the capacity of clerk to a Mr. Denham, a worthy person who was returning thither in order to open a warehouse in that city. They entered upon their voyage in July, 1726. The leisure hours of the passage were memorable for producing the first draft of Franklin's plan for his conduct in life, “being pretty faithfully adhered to, quite through to old age." He landed at Philadelphia in October, where he 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, and passed without saying any. thing. I should have been as much ashamed at seeing Miss Read had not her friends, despairing with reason of my return, persuaded her to marry another, one Rogers, a potter, which was done in my absence. With him, however, she was never happy, and soon parted from him, refusing to cohabit with him, or bear his name, it being now said 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.”
Franklin soon acquired a considerable knowledge of trade in the employ of Mr. Denham, and passed his time very happily, till that individual's death, in 1727, dissolved the connexion. He was again therefore obliged to apply for support to the press, and accepted an offer from
Keimer to become superintendent of his office. In this situation he acquired general esteem and improved his connections, so that at length, rot a little impelled by the selfish and ungrateful conduct of the master of the establishment, he began to entertain thoughts of setting up for himself; this he brought to effect by means of a partnership with one Meredith, a fellow workman, whose father was capable of advancing them some pecuniary assistance to start with. They took a house in Philadelphia; and the autobiographer has recorded the extraordinary pleasure he experienced from a payment of five shillings, the first-fruits of their earnings as master printers.--He declares that the recollection of what he felt on that occasion rendered him ever afterwards more disposed than perhaps he might otherwise have been, to encourage young beginners in trade ; an amiable effect and trait, indicating the benevolence of his heart. His habitual industry was now sharpened by the consciousness of working for his own benefit. It obtained the notice of some of the leading men of the place, and, joined to his punctuality, gave him ever-increasing reputation : he was now in the very sphere he was formed to shine in.
A club, which he instituted under the name of the Junto, for the purpose of discussing political and philosophical questions, proved an excellent school of mutual improvement among the members, and united them in supporting each other's interests. Of course it was the young philosopher who drew up for them a body of rules, requiring that each member should in his turn produce one or more queries, to be discussed by the members; and should every three months read an essay of his own writing on some subject generally interesting. The meetings of the society were to be conducted by a president, in a sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute or desire of victory. To prevent distraction or division, all positiveness of opinion, direct contradiction, &c. were prohibited under small pecuniary penalties. The original rules of this institution are worth preserving, as exhibiting the honest struggles of growing intellect among the members. Instrumental as it was in the formation of many public measures, it existed for nearly thirty years without being publicly known.
It ought to be mentioned, that before quitting Keimer's employ, the press of that strange compound of eccentricity and selfishness was frequently in want of the necessary quantity of type, there being no such trade as that of letter-founder at the time in America. Franklin had seen
the practice of this art in England, although he had paid very little attention to it. However, he now contrived to fabricate a mould, making use of such letters as Keimer had for punches, founding new letters of lead in matrices of clay, and thus supplying, in a tolerable manner, the wants that were most urgent.
Keimer had obtained the New Jersey business; and, in order to execute it, Franklin constructed a copper-plate printing press, the first that had been seen in the country. He engraved various ornaments and vignettes, and was thus the means of producing work which gave general satisfaction and materially assisted his employer.
Franklin admits that he was about this time a perfect deist, and that his arguments had perverted several other young persons. Some volumes against infidelity had fallen into his hands, which happened to produce on him an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; the arguments of the deists which were cited in order to be refuted, appearing to him much more cogent, than the refutation itself ; thus showing the extreme danger of unskilful, though zealous attempts, to overthrow doctrinal errors. Still, in the sequel, the autobioyrapher declares, when he reflected on the conduct and character of the young men who had become his disciples in scepticism, and of the behaviour of Keith who was a freethinker, he experienced great uneasiness suspecting that although the infidel doctrines might be true, they were pot very useful.
Franklin and his partner very soon ventured to set up a newspaper, their hopes of success being founded on the circumstance that the only joumal at the period published in Philadelphia, belonging to one Bradford, was a paltry thing, miserably conducted, and in no respect entertaining, but was yet profitable. Keimer having got an intimation of the contemplated print, immediately issued a prospectus of a paper which he intended to bring out; when, with a view to counteract such an undertaking, our young philosopher, finding that he and Meredith were at the time unable to institute theirs, commenced a series of articles which appeared in Bradford's, under the title of the 'Busy-Body,' with the object of turning the prospectus of Keimer's publication into ridicule. This series of articles afford a specimen of the style of Franklin in early life.
The following is from No III.