Page images
PDF
EPUB

fide of the new emiffion; convinced that the firft fmall fum, fabricated in 1723, had done much good in the province, by favouring commerce, induftry and population, fince all the houses were now inhabited, and many others building; whereas I remembered to have feen, when I firft paraded the streets of Philadelphia eating my roll, the majority of those in Walnut-street, Second-ftreet, Fourth-street, as well as a great number in Chefnut and other streets, with papers on them fignifying that they were to be let; which made me think at the time that the inhabitants of the town were deserting it one after another.

Our debates made me fo fully master of the fubject, that I wrote and published an anonymous pamphlet, entitled An Enquiry into the Nature and Neceffity of a Paper Currency. It was very well received by the lower and midling clafs of people; but it displeased the opulent, as it increased the clamour in favour of the new emiffion. Having, however, no writer among them capable of answering it, their oppofition became lefs violent; and there being in the house of affembly a majority for the measure, it paffed. The friends I had acquired in the house, perfuaded that I had done the country effential fervice on this occafion, rewarded me by giving me the printing of the bills. It was a lucrative employment, and proved a very seasonable help to me; another advantage which I derived from having habituated myself to write

Time and experience fo fully demonftrated utility of paper currency, that it never after experienced any confiderable oppofition; fo that it foon amounted to 55,000l. and in the year 1739 to 80,000l. It has fince rifen, during the laft war, to 350,000l. trade, buildings and population having in the interval continually increased:

but

but I am now convinced that there are limits beyond which paper money would be prejudicial.

I foon after obtained, by the influence of my friend Hamilton, the printing of the Newcastle paper money, another profitable work, as I then thought it, little things appearing great to perfons of moderate fortune; and they were really great to me, as proving great encouragements. He also procured me the printing of the laws and votes of that government, which I retained as I continued in the business.

I now opened a small ftationer's fhop. I kept bonds and agreements of all kinds, drawn up in a more accurate form than had yet been feen in that part of the world; a work in which I was affifted by my friend Breintnal. I had also paper, parchment, pafteboard, books, &c. One Whitemafh, an excellent compofitor, whom I had known in London, came to offer himself. I engaged him; and he continued conftantly and diligently to work with me. I alfo took an ap prentice, the fon of Aquila Rofe.

·

1

I began to pay, by degrees, the debt I had contracted; and in order to infure my credit and character as a tradefman, I took care not only to be really industrious and frugal, but also to avoid every appearance of the contrary. I was plainly dreffed, and never feen in any place of public amufement. I never went a fishing or hunting. A book indeed enticed me fometimes from my work, but it was feldom, by stealth, and occafioned no fcandal; and to fhow that I did not think myself above my profeffion, I conveyed home fometimes in a wheelbarrow the paper I purchased at the warehouses.

I thus obtained the reputation of being an induftrious young man, and very punctual in his payments. The merchants who imported arti

cles

cles of ftationary folicited my cuftom; others offered to furnish me with books, and my little trade went on profperously.

Meanwhile the credit and business of Keimer diminishing every day, he was at laft forced to fell his ftock to fatisfy his creditors; and he betook himself to Barbadoes, where he lived for fome time in a very impoverished ftate. His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had inftructed while I worked with Keimer, having bought his materials, fucceeded him in the bufinefs. I was apprehenfive, at first, of finding in Harry a powerful competitor, as he was allied to an opulent and refpectable family; I therefore propofed a partnership, which, happily for me, he rejected with difdain. He was extremely proud, thought himself a fine gentleman, lived extravagantly, and purfued amufements which fuffered him to be scarcely ever at home; of confequence he became in debt, neglected his business, and business neglected him. Finding in a fhort time nothing to do in the country, he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, carrying his printing materials with him. There the apprentice employed his old mafter as a journeyman. They were continually quarrelling; and Harry ftill getting in debt, was obliged at laft to fell his prefs and types, and return to his old occupation of hufbandry in Pennfylvania. The person who purchased them employed Keimer to manage the bufinefs; but he died a few years after.

I had now at Philadelphia no competitor but Bradford, who, being in eafy circumftances, did not engage in the printing of books, except now and then as workmen chanced to offer themselves; and was not anxious to extend his trade. He had, however, one advantage over me, as he had the direction of the poft office, and was of con

fequence

fequence fuppofed to have better opportunities of obtaining news. His paper was alfo fuppofed to be more advantageous to advertising customers; and in confequence of that fuppofition, his adver tifements were much more numerous than mine: this was a fource of great profit to him, and difadvantageous to me. It was to no purpose that I really procured other papers, and diftributed my own, by means of the poft; the public took for granted my inability in this refpect; and I was indeed unable to conquer it in any other mode than by bribing the poft-boys, who ferved me only by stealth, Bradford being fo illiberal as to forbid them. This treatment of his excited my refentment; and my difguft was fo rooted, that, when I afterwards fucceeded him in the poft-office, I took care to avoid copying his example.

I had hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who, with his wife and children, occupied part of my houfe, and half of the shop for his bufinefs; at which indeed he worked very little, being always abforbed by mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey formed a wifh of marrying me to the daughter of one of her relations. She contrived various opportunities of bringing us together, till The faw that I was captivated; which was not difficult, the lady in question poffeffing great perfonal merit. The parents encouraged my addreffes, by inviting me continually to fupper, and leaving us together, til at last it was time to come to an explanation. Mrs. Godfrey undertook to negociate our little treaty. I gave her to understand, that I expected to receive with the young lady a fum of money that would enable me at least to discharge the remainder of my debt for my printing materials. It was then, I believe, not more than a hundred pounds. She

brought

brought me for anfwer, that they had no fuch fum at their difpofal. I obferved that it might eafily be obtained, by a mortgage on their house. The reply to this was, after a few days interval, that they did not approve of the match; that they had confulted Bradford; and found that the bufinefs of a printer was not lucrative; that my letters would foon be worn out, and muft be fupplied by new ones; that Keimer and Harry had failed, and that, probably, I fhould do fo too. Accordingly they forbade me the house, and the young lady was confined. I know not if they had really changed their minds, or if it was merely an artifice, fuppofing our affections to be too far engaged for us to defift, and that we should contrive to marry fecretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not as they pleased. But, fufpecting this motive, I never went again to their house.

Some time after Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were very favourably disposed towards me, and wifhed me to renew the acquaintance; but I declared a firm refolution never to have any thing more to do with the family. The Godfreys expreffed fome refentment at this; and as we could no longer agree, they changed their refidence, leaving me in poffeffion of the whole house. I then refolved to take no more lodgers. This affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I looked around me, and made overtures of alliance in other quarters; but I foon found that the profeffion of a printer being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect no money with a wife, at leaft if I wished her to poffefs any other charm. Meanwhile that passion of youth, fo difficult to govern, had often drawn me into intrigues with defpicable women who fell in my way; which were not unaccompanied

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »