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dangerous period of youth, and in the hazardous fituations in which I fometimes found myself, among ftrangers, and at a diftance from the eye and admonitions of my father. I may fay voluntary, because the errors into which I had fallen, had been in a manner the forced refult either of my own inexperience, or the difhonefty of others. Thus, before I entered on my new career, I had imbibed folid principles, and a character of probity. I knew their value; and I made a folemn engagement with myfelf never to depart from them.
I had not long returned from Burlington before our printing materials arrived from London. I fettled my accounts with Keimer, and quitted him, with his own confent, before he had any knowledge of our plan. We found a house to let near the market. We took it; and to render the rent lefs burthenfome (it was then twenty-four pounds a-year, but I have fince known it to let for seventy), we admitted Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, with his family, who eafed us of a confiderable part of it; and with him we agreed to board.
We had no fooner unpacked our letters, and put our press in order, than a perfon of my acquaintance, George House, brought us a countryman, whom he had met in the ftreets enquiring for a printer. Our moncy was almost exhaufted by the number of things we had been obliged to procure. The five fhillings we received from this countryman, the firft fruit of our earnings, coming fo feasonably, gave me more pleasure than any fum I have fince gained; and the recollection of the gratitude I felt on this ocafion to George Houfe, has rendered me often more difpofed, than perhaps I fhould otherwife have been, to encourage young beginners in trade.
There are in every country morofe beings, who are always prognofticating ruin. There was one of this ftamp at Philadelphia. 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 faid that he was very forry for me, as it was an extenfive undertaking, and the money that had been laid out upon it would be loft, 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 undoubted fact, the circumftances which might lead us to fuppofe the contrary, fuch as new buildings, and the advanced price of rent, to be deceitful appearances, which in reality contributed to haften the general ruin; and he gave me fo long a detail of misfortunes, actually exifting, or which were foon to take place, that he left me almoft in a state of defpair. Had I known this man before I entered into trade, I fhould doubtlefs never have ventured. He continued however to live in this place of decay, and to declaim in the fame style, refufing for many years to buy a house, because all was going to wreck; and in the end I had the fatisfaction to fee him five times as much for one as it would have coft him had he purchafed it when he firft began his lamentations.
I ought to have related, that, during the autumn of the preceding year, I had united the majority of well-informed perfons of my acquaintance into a club, which we called by the name of the Junto, and the object of which was to improve our understanding. We met every Friday even
ing. The regulations I drew up, obliged every member to propofe, in his turn, one or more queftions upon fome point of morality, politics or philofophy, which were to be difcuffed by the fociety; and to read, once in three months, an effay of his own compofition, on whatever subject he pleafed. Our debates were under the direction of a prefident, and were to be dictated only by a fincere defire of truth; the pleasure of difputing, and the vanity of triumph having no fhare in the business; and in order to prevent undue warmth, every expreffion which implied obftinate adhe rence to an opinion, and all direct contradiction, were prohibited, under fmall pecuniary penalties.
The first members of our club were Jofeph Breintal, whofe occupation was that of a scrivener. He was a middle-aged man, of a good natural difpofition, ftrongly 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 converfation.
Thomas Godfrey, a fkilful, though felf-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 infupportable in company, always requiring, like the majority of mathematicians that have fallen in my way, an unusual precision in every thing that is faid, continually contradicting, or making trifling diftinctions; a fure way of defeating all the ends of converfation. He very foon left us.
Nicholas Scull, a furveyor, and who became afterwards furveyor-general. He was fond of books, and wrote verfes..
William Parfons, brought up to the trade of a fhoe-maker, but who, having a taste for read
ing, had acquired a profound knowledge of mathematics. He first studied them with a view to aftrology, and was afterwards the first to laugh at his folly. He also became furveyor-general.
William Mawgridge, a joiner, and very excellent mechanic; and in other refpects a man of folid 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 laftly, William Coleman, at that time a merchant's clerk, and nearly of my own age. He had a cooler and clearer head, a better heart, and more fcrupulous morals, than almost any other perfon I have ever met with. He became a very refpectable merchant, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship fubfifted, without interruption, for more than forty years, till the period of his death; and the club continued to exist almoft as long.
This was the beft fchool of politics and philofophy that then exifted in the province; for our queftions, which were read a week previous to their difcuffion, induced us to perufe attentively fuch books as were written upon the fubjects propofed, that we might be able to speak upon them more pertinently. We thus acquired the habit of converfing more agreeably; every object being difcuffed conformably to our regulations, and in a manner to prevent mutual difguft. To this circumftance may be attributed the long duration of the club; which I fhall have frequent occafion to mention as I proceed."
I have introduced it here, as being one of the means on which I had to count for fuccefs in my bufinefs; every member exerting himself to pro
cure work for us. Breintnal, among others, ob tained for us, on the part of the Quakers, the printing of forty fheets of their hiftory; of which the reft was to be done by Keimer. Our execution of this work was by no means mafterly; as the price was very low. It was in folio, upon pro patria paper, and in the pica letter, with heavy notes in the fmalleft type. I compofed a fheet a day, and Meredith put it to the prefs. It was frequently eleven o'clock at night, fometimes later, before I had finished my diftribution for the next day's task; for the little things which our friends occafionally fent us, kept us back in this work: but I was fo determined to compofe a fheet a day, that one evening, when my form was impofed, and my day's work, as I thought, at an end, an accident having broken this form, and deranged two complete folio pages, I imme diately diftributed, and compofed them anew before I went to bed.
This unwearied induftry, which was perceived by our neighbours, began to acquire us reputation and credit. I learned, among other things, that our new printing-houfe being the fubject of converfation at a club of merchants, who met every evening, it was the general opinion that it would fail; there being already two printinghoufes in the town, Keimer's and Bradford's. But Dr. Bard, whom you and I had occafion to fee, many years after, at his native town of St. Andrew's in Scotland, was of a different opinion. "The industry of this Franklin (faid he) is fuperior to any thing of the kind I have ever wit"neffed. I fee him ftill 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 ftruck the reft of the affembly, and fhortly after one of its members came to