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our earnings, coming so seasonably, gave me moro pleasure than any sum I have since gained ; and the recollection of the gratitude I felt on this occasion to George House, has rendered me often more disposed, than perhaps I should otherwise have been, to encourage young beginners in trade.
There are in every country morose beings, who are always prognosticating ruin. There was one of this starp at Pluiladelphia. He was a man of fortune, declined in years,'had an air of wisdom, and a very grave manner of speaking. His name was Samuel Mickle. I knew him not ; but he stopped one day at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Upon my answering in the affirmative, he sad that he was very sorry for me, as it was an expensive undertaking, and the money that had been laid out upon it would be lost, Philadelphia being a place falling into decay; its inhabitants having all, or nearly all of them, been obliged to call together their creditors. That he knew, from un.loubted fact, the circumstances which might lead us to suppose the contrary, such as new buildings, and the advanced price of rent, to be deceitful appearances, which, in reality, contributed to hasten the general ruin ; and he gave me so long a detailof misfortunes, actually existing, or which were soon to take place, that he left me almost in a state ofdespair. Had I known this man before I entered into trade, I should doubtless never have ventured. He continued however, to live in this place of decay, and to declaim in the same style, refusing for many years to buy a house, because all was going to wreck; and, in the end, I had the satisfaction to see him pay five times as much for one, as it would have cost him. had he purchased it when he firet began his lamentations.
I ought to have related, that during the autumn of the preceding year, I had united the majority of wellinformed persons of my acquaintance, into a club, which we called by the name of the Junto, and the object of which was to improve our understandings. We met overy Friday evening. 'The Regulations I drew ur, obliged every member to propose, in his turn, one or more questions upon some point of moi
rality, politics, or philosophy, which were to be disa cussed 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 vere to be dictated only by'a sincere desire of truth; the pleasure of disputing, and the vanity of triumph, having nu share in the business ; and in order to prevent undue warmth, every expression which implied obstinate adherence to an opinion, and all direct contradiction, were pro. hibited, under small pecuniary penalties.
The first members of our club were Joseph Breinte pal, whose occupation was that of a scrivener. He was a middle-aged man, of a good natural disposi. tion, 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 agreeable conversation
Thomas Godfrey, a skilful, though self-taught mathematician, and who was afterwards the inventor of what now goes by the name of Hadley'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, asterwards surveyor-general. He was fond of books, and
William Parsons, brought up to the trade of a shoemaker, but who, having a taste for reading, had acquired a profound knowledge of mathematics Не Arst studied them with a view to astrology, and was afterwards the first to laugh at his folly. He also begame surveyor-general.
William Mawgride. a joiner, and very excellent mechanic; and in other respects a man of solid understanding.
Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb, of whom I have already spoken.
Robert Grace, a young man of fortune ; generous,
animated, and witty; fond of epigrams, but more fond of his friends.
And, lastly, William Coleman, at that time a mer. chant's clerk, and nearly of my own age. He had a cooler and clearer head, a better 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 more than forty years, till the period of his death ; and the club conuinued to exis 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 discussiun, induced us to peruse aitentively such books as were written upon the subjects proposed, that we might be able to speak upon them more pertinently. We 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 may be attributed the long duration of the club, which I shall have frequent occasion to mention as I proceed.
I have introduced it here, is being one of the means on which I had to count for success in my business, every member
rting himself to procure work for us. Breininal, among others obtained for us, on the part of the quakers, the punting of forty sheets of Their history: of which the rest was to be done by Keimer. Our execution of the work was, by no means, masteriy; a the price was very low. It was in tolio, upon pro patru paper. and in the pica letter, with heavy notes, in the smallest type. I composed a sheet a-day, and Meredith put it to the press. It was frequently, eleven o'clock at night, sometimes later, before 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 hav. ing broken this form, and deranged two complete folie pages, I immediately distributed, and composed them &new before I went to bed.
This unwearied industry, which was perceived by onr 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 being already two printing-houses in the town, Keimer's and Bradford's. But
Dr. Bard, whem 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 wit. messed. 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 ourselves with keeping a shop. It is not for the sake of applause that I enter 80 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 sumn 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 í 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 limparted to him, were founded on the circumstance, that the only paper we had in Philadelphia at that tine, 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 suc
Webb betrayed my secret to Keimer, who, to prevent me, immediately published the prospectus of a 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 te
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 months by Brientnal. 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 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 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 nipon 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 the case admitted.
Our first number produced no other effect than any other paper which had appeared in the province, as tb type and printing; but some remarks, in my pe. culiar style of writing, upon the dispute which then prevailed between Governor Burnet and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck some persons as above me. diocrity, 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 patronize 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 Philadelphia library, says, that Franklin wrote the first iive numbers, and part of the eighth.