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our house, and offered to fupply us with articles of stationary; but we wifhed not as yet to embarrafs ourselves with keeping a fhop. It is not for the fake of applaufe that I enter fo freely into the particulars of my induftry, but fuch of my defcendants as fhall read thefe memoirs may know the use of this virtue, by feeing in the recital of my life the effects it operated in my favour.
George Webb, having found a friend who lent him the neceffary fum 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 rofe, that I intended fhortly to publifh a new periodical paper, and that we fhould then have work for him. My hopes of fuccefs, which I imparted to him, were founded on the circumftance, that the only paper we had in Philadelphia at that time, and which Bradford printed, was a paltry thing, miferably conducted, in no refpect amufing, and which yet was profitable. I confequently fuppofed that a good work of this kind could not fail of fuccefs. Webb betrayed my fecret to Keimer, who, to prevent me, immediately publifhed the profpectus of a paper that he intended to institute himfelf, and in which Webb was to be engaged.
I was exafperated at this proceeding, and, with a view to counteract them, not being able at prefent to inftitute my own paper, I wrote fome humorous pieces in Bradford's, under the title of the Bufy Body*; and which was continued for feveral months by Breintnal. I hereby fixed the attention of the public upon Bradford's paper; and the profpectus of Keimer, which we turned
* A manufcript note in the file of the American Mercury, preferved in the Philadelphia library, fays, that Franklin wrote the first five numbers, and part of the eight.
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 fubfcribers, he offered it me for a mere trifle. I had for fome time been ready for fuch an engagement; I therefore inftantly took it upon myfelf, and in a few years it proved extremely profitable to me.
I perceive that I am apt to speak in the first perfon, though our partnerfhip ftill continued. It is, perhaps, because, in fact, the whole bufinefs devolved upon me. Meredith was no compofitor, and but an indifferent preffman; and it was rarely that he abftained from hard drinking. My friends were forry to fee me connected with him; but I contrived to derive from it the utmoft advantage the cafe admitted.
Our firft number produced no other effect than any other paper which had appeared in the province, as to type and printing; but fome remarks, in my peculiar ftyle of writing, upon the difpute which then prevailed between governor Burnet and the Maffachusett affembly, ftruck fome perfons as above mediocrity, caufed the paper and its editors to be talked of, and in a few weeks induced them to become our fubfcribers. Many others followed their example; and our fubfcription 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, feeing in the author of this publication a man fo well able to use his pen, thought it right to patronife and encourage me.
The votes, laws, and other public pieces, were printed by Bradford. An addrefs of the house of affembly to the governor had been executed by him in a very coarfe and incorrect manner.
We reprinted it with accuracy and neatness, and fent a copy to every member. They perceived the difference; and it fo ftrengthened the influence of our friends in the affembly, that we were nominated its printer for the following year.
Among thefe 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 occafi. on, 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 preffing me for payment. I wrote a handfome letter on the occafion, begging him to wait a little longer, to which he confented; and as foon as I was able I paid him, principal and intereft, with many expreffions of gratitude; fo that this error of my life was in a manner atoned for.
But another trouble now happened to me, which I had not the fmalleft reafon to expect. Meredith's father, who, according to our agreement, was to defray the whole expence of our printing materials, had only paid a hundred pounds. Another hundred was ftill due, and the merchant being tired of waiting, commenced a fuit against us. We bailed the action, but with the melancholy profpect, that, if the money was not forth-coming at the time fixed, the affair would come to iffue, judgment be put in execution, our delightful hopes be annihilated, and ourselves entirely ruined; as the type and prefs must be fold, perhaps at half their value, to pay the debt.
In this diftrefs, two real friends, whofe generous conduct I have never forgotten, and never fhall forget while I retain the remembrance of
any thing, came to me feparately, without the knowledge of cach other, and without my hav. ing applied to either of them. Each offered me whatever money might be neceffary, to take the business into my own hands, if the thing was practicable, as they did not like I fhould continue in partnership with Meredith, who, they faid, was frequently feen drunk in the streets, and gambling at ale-houfes, which very much injured our credit. Thefe friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace. I told them, that while there remained any probability that the Merediths would fulfil their part of the compact, I could not propofe a feparation; as I conceived myself to be under obligations to them for what they had done already, and were ftill difpofed to do if they had the power: but in the end fhould they fail in their engagement, and our partnerfhip be diffolved, I fhould then think myself at liberty to accept the kindness of my friends.
Things remained for fome time in this ftate. At laft I faid one day to my partner, "Your father is perhaps diffatisfied with your having a fhare only in the bufinefs, and is unwilling to do for two, what he would do for you alone. Tell me frankly if that be the cafe, and I will refign the whole to you, and do for myself as well as I can."-" No (faid he) my father has really been difappointed in his hopes; he is not able to pay, and I wish to put him to no farther inconvenience. I fee that I am not at all calculated for a printer; I was educated as a farmer, and it was abfurd in me to come here, at thirty years of age, and bind myself apprentice to a new trade. Many of my countrymen are going to fettle in North Carolina, where the foil is exceedingly favourable. I am tempted to go with them, and to refume my former occupation.
You will doubtlefs find friends who will affift you. If you will take upon yourself the debts of the partnership, return my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay my little perfonal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new faddle, I will renounce the partnership, and confign over the whole ftock to you."
I accepted this propofal without hesitation. It was committed to paper, and figned and fealed without delay. I gave him what he demanded, and he departed foon after for Carolina, from whence he fent me, in the following year, two letters, containing the best accounts that had yet been given of that country, as to climate, foil, agriculture, &c.; for he was well verfed in thefe matters. I published them in my newspaper, and they were received with great fatisfaction.
As foon as he was gone I applied to my two friends, and not wifhing to give a disobliging preference to either of them, I accepted from each half of what he offered me, and which it was neceffary I should have. I paid the partnerfhip debts, and continued the bufinefs on my own account; taking care to inform the public, by advertisement, of the partnership being diffolved. This was, I think, in the year 1729, or thereabout.
Nearly at the fame period the people demanded a new emiffion of paper money; the exifting and only one that had taken place in the province, and which amounted to fifteen thousand pounds, being foon to expire. The wealthy inhabitants, prejudiced againft every fort of paper currency, from the fear of its depreciation, of which there had been an inftance in the province of New-England, to the injury of its holders, ftrongly oppofed the meafure. We had difcuffed this affair in our junto, in which I was on the