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· This unwearied industry, which was perceived by sur neighbours, began to acquire us reputation and credit. I learned, among other things, that our new printing-house, being the subject of conversation at a club of merchants, who met every evening, it was the general opinion that it would fail; there heing already two printing-houses in the town, Keimer's and Bradford's. But Dr. Bard, whom you and I had occasion to see, many years after, at his native town of St. Andrew's, in Scotland, was of a different opinion. The industry of this Franklin (said he is superior to any thing of the kind I have ever witnessed. I see him still at work when I return from the club at night, and he is at it again in the .norning before his neighbours are out of bed.” This account struck the rest of the assembly, and, shortly after, one of its members came to our house, and offered to supply us with articles of stationary; but we wished not, as yet, to embarrass ourselves with keeping a shop. It is not for the sake of applause that I enrer so freely into the particulars of my industry, but that such of my descendants as shall read these memoirs may know the use of this virtue, by seeing, in the recital of my life, the effects it operated in my favour.
George Webb, having found a friend who lent him the necessary eum to buy out his time of Keimer, came one day to offer himself to us as a journeyman. We could not
y him immediately ; but I fool. ishly told him, under the rose, that I intended shortly to publish a new periodical paper, and that we should then have work for him. My hopes of success, which I imparted to him, were founded on the circumstance, that the only paper we had in Philadelphia at that time, and which Bradford printed, was a paltry thing, miserably conducted, in no respect amusing, and which yet was profitable. I consequently supposed that a good work of this kind could not fail of success. Webb betrayed my secret in Keimer, who, to prevent me, immediately published the prospectus oi ä paper, that he intended to institute himself, and in which Webb was to be engaged.
I was exasperated at this proceeding, and, with a view to counteract them, not being able at present to
institute my own paper, I wrote some humorous pieces in Bradford's, under the title of the Busy Body;* and which was continued for several inonths by Breintnal. I hereby fixed the attention of the public upon Brad. ford's paper; and the prospectus 'of Keimer, which we turned into ridicule, was treated with conternpt. He began, notwithstanding, his paper; and, after continuing it for nine months, having, at most, not more than ninety subscribers, he offered it to me for a mere trifle. I had for some time been ready for such an engagement; I therefore instantly took it upon myself, and in a few years it prored extremely profitable to me.
I perceive that I am apt to speak in the first person, though our partnership still continued. It is, perhaps, because, in fact, the whoje business devolved upon me. Meredith was no compositor, and brut an indifferent pressman; and it was rarely that he ab. stained from hard drinking. My friends were sorry to see me connected with him ; but I contrived to de. rive from it the utmost advantage the case admitted.
Our first number produced no other effect than any other paper which had appeared in the province, as to type and printing ; but some remarks, in my peculiar style of writing, upon the dispute which then prevailed between Governor Burnet and the Massa
husetts Assembly, struck some persons as above me. dic.rity, caused the paper and its editors to be talked of, and, in a few weeks, induced them to become our subscribers. Many others followed their example; and our subscription continued to increase. This was one of the first good effects of the pains I had taken to learn to put my ideas on paper. I derived this farther advantage from it, that the leading men of the place, seeing in the author of this publication a man so well able to use his pen, thought it right to patronise and encourage me. · The votes, laws, and other public pieces, were printed by Bradford. An address of the House of
*A manuscript note in the file of the American Mercury, preserved in the Philadelpbia library, says, that Franklin wrote tlie Giye first numbers, and part of the eighth,
Assembly to the Governor, had been executed by him in a very coarse and incorrect manner. We reprinted it with accuracy and neatness, and sent a copy to every member. They perceived the difference; and it so strengthened the influence of our friends in the Assembly, that we were nominated its printer for the following year.
Among these friends, I nught not to forget one meinber in particular, Mr. Hamilton, whom I have mentioned in a former part of my narrative, and who was now returned from England. He warnly interested himself for ine on this occasion, as he did likewise on many others afterwards; having continued his kind. ness to me till his death.
About this period Mr. Vernon reminded me of the debt I owed him, but without pressing me for payinent. I wrote a handsonie letter on the occasion, begging hiin to wait a little longer, to which he consented, and as soon as I was able, I paid him principal and interest, with many expressions of gratitude ; so that this error of my life was, in a manner, atoned for.
But another trouble now happened to me, which I had not the smallest reason to expect. Mereclith's father, who, according to our agreement, was to defray the whole expense of our printing materials, had only paid a hundred pounds. Another hundred was still due, and the merchant being tired of waiting, commenced a suit against us. We bailed the action, but with the melancholy prospect, that, if the money was not forthcoming at the time fixed, the affair would come to issue, judgment be put in execution, our delightful hopes be annihilated, and ourselves entirely ruined; as the type and press must be sold, perhaps at half their value, to pay the debi.
In this distress, two real friends, whose generous conduct I have never forgotten, and never shall forget, while I retain the remembrance of any thing, came to me separately, without the knowledge of each other, and without my having applied to either of them. Each offered whatever money might be necessary to take the business into my own hands, if the thing was practicable, as they did not like I
should continue in partnership with Meredith, who, they said, was frequently 'seen drunk in the streets, and gambling at ale-houses, which very much injured our credit. These friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace. I told them, that while there remained any probability that the Merediths would fulfil their part of the compact, I could not propose a separation, as I conceived myself to be under obligations to them for what they had done already, and were still disposed to do, if they had the power; but, in the end, should they fail in their engagement, and our partnership be dissolved, I should then think my. şelf at liberty to accept the kindness of my friends.
Things remained for some time in this state. At last, I said one day to my partner, “ Your father is perhaps dissatisfied with four having a share only in The business, and is unwilling to do for lvo, what he would do for you alone. Tell me frankly, if that be the case, and I will resign the whole to you, and do for myself as well as I can." "No, (said he) my father has really been disappointed in his hopes; he is not able to pay, and I wish to put him to no farther inconvenience. I see that I am not at all calculated for a printer; I was educated as a farmer, and it was absurd in me to come here, at thirty years of age, and bind myself appreutice to a new trade. Many of my countrymen are going to settle in North Carolina, where the soil is exceedingly favourable. I am tempt. od to go with them, and to resume my former occu. pation. You will, doubtless, find friends who will assist you. If you will take upon yourself the debts of the partnership, return my father the hundred pounds he bas advanced, pay my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will renounce the partnership, and consign over the whole stock to you."
I accepted this proposal without hesitation. It was committed to paper, and signed and sealed without uelayI gave him what he demanded, and he departed soon after for Carolina, from whence he sent ine, in the following year, two long letters, containing the best accounts that had yet been given of that country, as to climate, soil, agriculture, &c. for he
was well versed in these matters. I published them in my newspaper, and they were received with great satisfaction.
As soon as he was gone, I applied to my two friends, and not wishing to give a disobliging preference to either of them, I accepted from each, half what he had offered me, and which it was necessary I should have. I paid the partnership debts, and continued the business on my own account; taking care to inform the public, by advertisement, of the partnership being dissolved. This was, I think, in the year 1729, or thereabout.
Nearly at the same period, the people demanded a new emission of paper-money; the existing and only one that had taken place in the province, and which amounted to fifteen thousand pounds, being soon to expire. The wealthy inhabitants, prejudiced against every sort of paper currency, from the fear of its depreciatior., of which there had been an instance in The province of New-England, to the injury of its holders, strongly opposed this measure. We had discussed this affair in our Junto, in which I was on the side of the new emission; convinced that the first small sum, fabricated in 1723, had done much good in the province, bu favouring commerce, industry, and population, since all the houses wero now inhabited, and many others building; whereas I remembered to nave seen when I first paraded the streets of Puladelphia eatng my roll, the majority of those in Walnut-street, Second-street, Fourth-street, as well as a great number in Chesnut and other streets, with pa. pers on them, signifying that they were to be let; which made me think, at the tinie, that the inhabitants of the town were deserting it one after another.
Our debates made me so fully master of the subject. that I wrote and published an anonymous pamplet, entitled, “ An Inquiry into the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency.” It was very well received by thie lower and middling classes of people; but it displeased the opulent, as it increased the clamour in favour of the new emission. Having, however, no writer among them capable of answering it, their opposition became less violent; and therc being in the