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rality, politics, or philosophy, which were to be discussed by the society; and to read, once in three months, an essay of his own composition, on whatever subject he pleased. Our debates were under the direction of a president, and were to be dictated only by a sincere desire of truth; the pleasure of disputing, and the vanity of triumph having no share in the business; and in order to prevent undue warmth, every expression which implied obstinate adherencso an opinion, and all direct contradiction, were prohibited, under small pecuniary penalties.
The first members of our club were Joseph Breintrial, whose occupation was that of a scrivener. He was a middle-aged man, of a good natural disposi lion, strongly attached to his friends, a great lover of poetry, reading every thing that came in his way, and writing tolerably well, ingenious in many little trifles,and of an agreeableconversation.
Thomas Godfrey, a skilful, though self-taught mathematician, and who was afterwards the inventor of what now goes by the name of Hadlcy's dial; but he had little knowledge out of his own line, and was insupportable in company, always requiring, like the majority of mathematicians that have fallen in my way, an unusual precision in every thing that is said, continually contradicting, or making trifling distinctions; a sure way of defeating all the ends of conversation. He very soon left us.
Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, and who became, afterwards, surveyor-general. He was fond of books, and wrote verses.
William Parsons, brought up to the trade of a shoemaker, but who, having a taste for reading, had acquired a profound knowledge of mathematics. H8 rirststudied them with a view to astrology, and wai afterwards the first to laugh at his folly. He also became surveyor-general.
William Mawgride, a joiner, and very excellent .nKc.hauic; and in other respects a man of solid un .lerstanding.
Hu^h Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, of whom I have already spoken.
Robert Grace, a young man of fortune; genero-ts. unimated, and witty; fond of epigrams, but mors fund of his friends.
And, lastly, William Coleman, at that time a merchant's clerk, and nearly of my own age. He had a cooler and clearer head, abetter heart, and more scrupulous morals, than almost any other person I have ever met with. He became a very respectable merchant, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship subsisted, without interruption, for mor* hail forty years,till the period of his death; and the club continued to exist almost as long.
This was the best school for politics and philosophy that then existed in the province; for our questions, which were read once a week previous to their discussion, induced us to peruse attentively such books as were written upon the subjects proposed, that we might be able to speak upon them mora pertinently. Wo thus acquired the habit of conversing more agreeably; every object being discussed conformably to our regulations, and in a manner to prevent mutual disgust. To this circumstance maybe attributed the long duration of the club; which I shall have frequent occasion to mention as I proceed.
I have introduced it here, as being one of the means on which I had to count for success in my business, every member exerting himself to procure work for us. Breintnal, among others, obtained for us, on the part of the quaxers, the printing of forty sheets of their history; of which the rest was to be done by Keimer. Our execution of this work was by no means masterly; as the price was very low. It was in folio, upon propatrta paper, and in the pica letter, with heavy notes in the smallest typo. I composed sheet a-day, and Meredith put it to the press. It was frequently eleven o'clock at night, sometimes Jater, oefbre I had finished my distribution for the next day's task; for the little things which our friends occasionally sent us, kept us back in this work: but I was so determined to compose a sheet a-day, that one evening, when my form was imposed, and my day's work, as I thought, at an end, an accident having broken this form, and deranged two complete folio pages, I immediately distributed, and composed them anew before I went to bed.
This unwearied industry, which was perceived by cur neighbours, began to acquire us reputation and credit h learned, among other tilings, tliat our ntw 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 being already two printing-houses tn the town, Keimer'sand 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 tins Franklin (said hi) if 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 morning 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 out seizes with keeping a shop. It is not for the sake of applause that I enter 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 sum to buy out his time of Keimer,came one day to offer himself to us as a journeyman. We could not employ him immediately; but I foolishly 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 to Keimer, who, to prevent me, immediately published the prospectus ol a pam;r that he intended to institute himself, and in which Webb was to be engaged.
I was exasperated at this pruceedm', and, witn a view to counteiact them beui able at present to Institute my own paper, I wrote some humorous pieces in Bradford's, under the title of the Busy Body ;* mid which was continued for several months by Brehitnal. I hereby fixed the attention of the public upon Bradford's paper; and the prospectus of Keimer, which we turned into ridicule, was treated with contempt. He began, notwithstanding, his paper; and, after continuing it for nine months, having at most not more than ninety subscribers, he offered it 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 proved 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 whole business devolved upon me. Meredith was no compositor, and but an indifferent pressman; and it was rarely that he abstained from hard drinking. My friends were sorry to see me connected with him; but I contrived to derive from it the utmost advantage lhe~ease 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 Massaihusetts Assembly, struck some persons as above medU'rilv, 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 effectsof 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 publicum man so well able to use his pen, thought it.rij'ht i0 patronise and encourage me.
The votes, laws, and other public pieces, wars .printed by Bradford. An address of the House of
* A manuscript Dote in the file of the American Mereurr,
Swerved in the Philadelphia library, lays, that Frankiin rot* Ills fire first numben, and part of the ei jlith,
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 ought not to forget one member in particular, Mr. Hamilton, whom I have mentioned in a former part of my narrative, and who was now returned from England. He warmly interested himself for me on this occasion, as he did likewise on many others afterwards; having continued his kindness to me till his death.
About this period Mr. Vernon reminded me of the debt I owed him, but without pressing me for payment. I wrote a handsome letter on the occasion, begging him 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. Meredith'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 ui'n '* - as the type and press must be sold, perhaps at half their value, to pay the debt.
In this distress, two real friends, whose generous conduct I have never forgotten, anJ -iver shall forget while I retain the remembrance of &? . •,iiue 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 1