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I began now to turn my thoughts 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 summoned 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 go to hiring substitutes, but was in reality much more than was necessary for that purpose, and made the constableship a place of profit; and the constable, for a little drink, often got such ragamuffins about him as a watch, that respectable housekeepers did not choose to mix with. Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of the nights spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper to be read in the Junto,

assumed the duties of postmaster, and also the degree of speed with which the mail was then conveyed.

October 27th, 1737. "Notice is hereby given, that the post office of Philadelphia is now kept at B. Franklin's, in Market Street; and that Henry Pratt is appointed Riding Postmaster for all the stages between Philadelphia and Newport in Virginia, who sets out about the beginning of each month, and returns in twenty-four days; by whom gentlemen, merchants, and others, may have their letters carefully conveyed, and business faithfully transacted, he having given good security for the same to the Honorable Colonel Spotswood, Postmaster-General of all his Majesty's Dominions in America."

Six years afterwards some improvement had taken place in the transmission of the mail. In an advertisement, dated April 14th, 1743, he says; "After this week, the northern post will set out for New York on Thursdays at three o'clock in the afternoon till Christmas. The southern post sets out next Monday at eight o'clock for Annapolis, and continues going every fortnight during the summer season." In winter the post between Philadelphia and New York went once a fortnight.

The following characteristic advertisement is contained in the Pennsylvania Gazette for June 23d, 1737.-"Taken out of a pew in the Church, some months since, a Common Prayer Book, bound in red, gilt, and lettered D. F. [Deborah Franklin] on each cover. The person who took it is desired to open it and read the eighth Commandment, and afterwards return it into the same pew again; upon which no further notice will be taken."- EDITOR.

representing these irregularities, but insisting more particularly on the inequality of the six shilling tax of the constable, 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 the 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 originating 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 the Junto, but it was afterwards 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 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 leathern buckets, with strong bags and baskets (for packing and transporting of goods), which were to be brought to every fire; and we



agreed about once a month to 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, 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 thus went on one new company 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 upwards of fifty years since its establishment, that which I first formed, called the Union Fire Company, still subsists; though the first members are all deceased but one, who is older by a year than I am. The fines that have been paid by


* In the Pennsylvania Gazette for February 4th, 1734-5, is a paper on this subject, which was probably written by Franklin. It begins as follows.

"Being old and lame of my hands, and thereby incapable of assisting my fellow citizens when their houses are on fire, I must beg them to take in good part the following hints on the subject of fires. "In the first place, as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I would advise them to take care how they suffer living brand-ends, or coals in a full shovel, to be carried out of one room into another, or up or down stairs, unless in a warming-pan, shut; for scraps of fire may fall into chinks, and make no appearance till midnight, when, your stairs being in flames, you may be forced, as I once was, to leap out of your windows, and hazard your necks to avoid being over-roasted. And now we talk of prevention, where would be the damage, if, to the act for regulating bakehouses and coopers' shops, a clause were added to regulate all other causes in the particulars of too shallow hearths, and the detestable practice of putting wooden mouldings on each side of the fireplace, which, being commonly of heart of pine and full of turpentine, stand ready to flame as soon as a coal or a small brand shall roll against them?"

He then proceeds to speak of the caution necessary in the building and sweeping of chimneys, and dwells at considerable length on the best modes of extinguishing fires, and the advantages of a proper organization of fire companies.- EDITOR.

members for absence at 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.


Forms an Intimacy with Whitefield. - Building erected for Preachers of all Denominations. - Character of Whitefield, his Oratory and Writings. Partnerships in the Printing Business. - Proposes a Philosophical Society. Takes an active Part in providing Means of Defence in the Spanish War. - Forms an Association for that Purpose.-Sentiments of the Quakers. James Logan. - Anecdote of William Penn. The Sect called Dunkers. Religious Creeds. vented Fireplace.

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IN 1739, arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield, 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 a 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


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, than sufficient

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