« ZurückWeiter »
11. Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind, to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you have heard of? And what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? And whether, think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
13. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
14. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country, of which it would be proper to move the legislature for an amendment 1 Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
15. Have you lately observed any encroachment on die just liberties of the people?
16. Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? And what can the Junto do towards securing it?
17. Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
18. Have you lately heard any member's character attacked, and how have you defended it 1
19. Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
20. In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honorable designs?
21. Have you any weighty affair on hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
22. What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
23. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time 1
24. Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended 1
Any person to be qualified [as a member of the Junto], to stand up, and lay his hand upon his breast, and be asked these questions, viz.
1. Have you any particular disrespect to any present members 1 Jlnswer. I have not.
2. Do you sincerely declare, that you love mankind in general . of what profession or religion soever 1 Jlnswer. I do.
3. Do you think any person ought to be harmed in his body, name, or goods, for mere speculative opinions, or his external way of worship? Jlnswer. No.
4. Do you love truth for truth's sake, and will you endeavour impartially to find and receive it yourself, and communicate it to others? Jlnswer. Yes.
After Franklin's return from his first visit to England, he engaged in the printing business on his own account at Philadelphia, and formed the project of setting up a newspaper. There were at this time two other printers in the city, Keimer and Bradford, and the latter published a gazette, called The Weekly Mercury, being the first newspaper printed in Pennsylvania. Having but a poor opinion of this paper as then conducted, and yet perceiving that it was profitable to the proprietor, Franklin thought there was a fair opportunity for a successful rivalship. He intended to keep his design a secret, however, till he should be ready to put it in execution; but in the mean time he unguardedly communicated it to George Webb, a journeyman printer, who applied to him for' employment, and who made haste to convey the news to Keimer.
Stimulated by jealousy, or by a temper ill suited to gain or preserve friends, Keimer immediately resolved, in concert with Webb, to take advantage of this hint, and issued proposals for publishing a paper himself. Franklin was piqued at this ungenerous interference, and he conceived it justifiable by proper means to defeat Keimer's plan. With this aim he commenced writing a series of pieces in Bradford's paper, under the title of The Busy-body, which were of an amusing cast, and designed to draw the attention of the public to that paper. He and his friend Breintnal, at the same time, united their wits in burlesquing and ridiculing Keimer's proposals. The effect was such as he desired. Keimer set his paper on foot; but it was so ill supported, that it languished from the beginning, and before the end of the year he was glad to sell it to Franklin for a small consideration.
The Essays of The Busy-body are curious, as being the earliest regular compositions, which are known to have come from the pen of Franklin. They were written at the beginning of his twentythird year. The style is marked by the peculiar characteristics, which prevail in all his subsequent writings; ease, simplicity, clearness, and a pure English idiom; and these qualities, indeed, in which he is everywhere unrivalled, seem to have been scarcely less vol.. II. B
a gift of nature than the effect of study. Without any display of ornament, or labored flights of fancy, his thoughts flow smoothly onward, and are conveyed in a language so lucid and expressive, that the reader's mind is never for a moment embarrassed with obscurity or doubt. In judging of the merits of these essays, in regard to the topics upon which they turn, and the mode of treating them, it would be unjust to the author not to keep in mind his pursuits and habits of life up to the time when they were written, and the forms of society with which his circumstances had necessarily made him familiar. And it should equally be remembered, that he did not write for literary fame, nor to win the applause of refined circles, but merely to amuse himself and effect a temporary purpose.
The first five numbers and the eighth of The Busy-body are considered as having been unquestionably written by Franklin. Whether he wrote more is uncertain. The series was continued to thirty-two numbers, chiefly if not wholly by Breintnal. — Editor.
THE BUSY-BODY. —No. I.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1728-9.
Mr. Andrew Bradford,
I Design this to acquaint you, that I, who have long been one of your courteous readers, have lately entertained some thought of setting up for an author myself; not out of the least vanity, I assure you, or desire of showing my parts, but purely for the good of my country.
I have often observed with concern, that your Mercury is not always equally entertaining. The delay of ships expected in, and want of fresh advices from Europe, make it frequently very dull; and I find the freezing of our river has the same effect on news as trade. With more concern have I continually observed the growing vices and follies of my country-folk; and, though reformation is properly the concern of every man, that is, every one ought to mend one; yet it is too true in this case, that what is every body's business is nobody's business; and the business is done accordingly. I therefore, upon mature deliberation, think' fit to take nobody's business wholly into my own hands; and, out of zeal for the public good, design to erect myself into a kind of censor morum; purposing, with your allowance, to make use of the Weekly Mercury as a vehicle in which my remonstrances shall be conveyed to the world.
I am sensible I have in this particular undertaken a very unthankful office, and expect little besides my labor for my pains. Nay, it is probable, I may displease a great number of your readers, who will not very well like to pay ten shillings a year for being told of their faults. But, as most people delight in censure when they themselves are not the objects of it, if any are offended at my publicly exposing their private vices, I promise they shall have the satisfaction, in a very little time, of seeing their good friends and neighbours in the same circumstances.
However, let the fair sex be assured, that I shall always treat them and their affairs with the utmost decency and respect. I intend now and then to dedicate a chapter wholly to their service; and if my lectures any way contribute to the embellishment of their minds, and brightening of their understandings, without offending their modesty, I doubt not of having their favor and encouragement .
It is certain, that no country in the world produces naturally finer spirits than ours; men of genius for every kind of science, and capable of acquiring to perfection every qualification that is in esteem among mankind. But as few here have the advantage of good books, for want of which good conversation is still more scarce, it would doubtless have been very