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Keimer to become superintendent of his office. In this situation he acquired general esteem and improved his connections, so that at length, cot 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 offect 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 forination 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 upskilful, though zealous attempts, to overthrow doctrinal errors. Still, in the sequel, the autobiographer 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 not 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 journal 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.
«« VIRTUE alone is sufficient to make a man great, glorious, and happy He that is acquainted with Cato, as I am, cannot help thinking, as I do now, and will acknowledge he deserves the name, without being honored by it. Cato is a man whom fortune has placed in the most obscure part of the country. His circumstances are such, as only put him above necessity, without affording him many superfluities : yet who is greater than Cato? I happened but the other day to be at a house in town, where among others, were met some of the most note in this place; Cato had business with some of them, and knocked at the door. The most trifling actions of a man, in my opinion, as well as the smallest features and lineaments of the face, give a nice observer some notion of his mind. Methought he rapped in such a peculiar manner, as seemed of itself to express there was one who deserved as well as desired admission. He appeared in the plainest country garb, his great coat was coarse, and looked old and threadbare; his linen was home-spun; his beard, perhaps of seven day's growth; his shoes, thick and heavy, and every part of his dress corresponding. Why was this man received with such concurring respect from every person in the rooni, even from those who had never known him or seen him before ? It was not an
exquisite form of person, or grandeur of dress, that struck us with admiration. I believe long habits of virtue have a sensible effect on the countenance. There was something in the air of his face that manifested the true greatness of his mind; which likewise appeared in all he said, and in every part of his behaviour, obliging us to regard him with a kind of veneration. His aspect is sweetened with humanity and benevolence, and at the same time emboldened with resolution, equally free from diffident bashfulness and an unbecoming assurance. The consciousness of his innate worth and unshaken integrity, lenders him calm and undaunted in the presence of the most great and powerful, and upon the most extraordinary occasions. His strict justice and known impartiality make him the arbitrator and decider of all differences that arise for many miles around him, without putting his neighbours to the charge, perplexity and uncertainty, of law suits. He always speaks the thing he means, which he is never afraid or ashamed to do, because he knows he always means well ; and therefore is never obliged to blush, and feel the confusion of finding himself detected in the meanness of a falsehood. He never contrives ill against his neighbour, and therefore is never seen with a lowering, suspicious aspect. A mixture of innocence and wisdom makes him ever seriously cheerful. His generous hospitality to strangers according to his ability, his goodness, his charity, his courage in the cause of the oppressed, his fidelity in friendship, his humility, his honesty, and sincerity, his moderation and his loyalty to the government, his piety, his temperance, his love to mankind, his magnanimity, his public-spiritedness, and, in fine, his consummate virtue, make him justly deserve to be esteemed the glory of his country.”.
In process of time, Meredith withdrew from the partnership, and Franklin met with friends who enabled him to take the whole concern upon himself, and add to it the business of a stationer. Meanwhile, the business and credit of Keimer became so diminished that he was forced to sell his stock, when he took farewell of Philadelphia, leaving no competitor for Franklin to contend with but Bradford in the trade of that city. The efforts of our young philosopher, however, both as a writer in his own newspaper, now established, and as a printer, were successful. He even obtained the printing of the votes and laws of the Assembly of the state; and thereby was made fully master of whatever subject became the ground of debate. A discussion coricerning a new emission of paper money taking place, he wrote an anonymous pamphlet in favour of the measure which was well received, and contributed to its success. This obtained for him farther countenance from persons in power, and insured his prosperity. He, however, confesses that at this time he was drawn into improper connexions with the sex, owing, probably, to the disappointment he met with in the object of his first attachment, Miss Read, who had been induced from his neglect, to marry the worthless person already named. But their mutual affection was renewed, although there were formidable obstacles in the way of their union. Her marriage, to be sure, was considered as invalid, the husband being said to have had another wife at the time; yet there was no actual proof of the fact, neither were there of the reports of his death. Over these, and other difficulties, however, they ventured, and were made one, September 1st, 1730. Neither the former claim on the young lady-nor any of its troublesome consequences ever annoyed him, and he found the union everything that could contribute to his prosperity and happiness through life.
And now it was also that Franklin set on foot his first project of a subscription library, drawing up the proposals, and getting them put into proper form. This proved to be the mother of all the North American Subscription libraries.
“The library afforded me the means," says he," of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two every 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 to my Printing Office; I had a young family coming to be educated, and there had been two competitors to contend with for business, who were established in the place before me. My circumstances, however, grew daily easier. My original habits of frugality continuing, and my father having. among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, -"Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before Kings, he shall not stand before mean men,” I 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 honour of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.” Then follows in the autobiography an entertaining anecdote.
“We have an English proverb that says, he that would thrive, must