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tions which were read a week previous to their disa cussion, induced us to peruse attentively such buoks 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 dicussed 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 free quent occasion to mention as I proceed.
I have introduced it here, as being one of the means on which I had to account for success in
my business; every member exerted himself to procure work for us. Breintual, among others, obtained for us, on the part of the Quakers, the printing of forty sheets of their history ; of which the rest was to be done by Keimer. Our execution of this work was by no means masterly; as the price was very low. It was in folio, upon pro patria paper, and in the pica letter, with heavy noles in the smallest type. I composed a sheet a day, and Meredith put
It was frequently eleven o'clock at night, sometimes later, before I had finishid 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 work was imposed, and my day's work as I thought at an end, an accident having broken this form, and deranged two complete folio pages, I immediately distributed, and composed them anew before I went to bed.
This unwearied industry, which was perceived by our neighbors, 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 metevery evening,
it to the press.
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, whom 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 witnessed. 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 neighbors 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 so 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 favor.
George Webb, having found a friend who lent him the necessary sum to buy out his time of Keimer, came one day to offer himself to us as a journey
We could not employ him immediately; but I foolishly 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 I imparted to him, were founded on the circumstance, that the only paper we had in Philadelphia at that time, 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 success. Webb betraved 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 to institute my own paper, I wrote some humorous pieces in Bradforu's, under the title of the Busy Body; * and which was continued for several months by Breintnal. 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, hav. ing at most not more than ninety subscribers, he of. fered it me for a mere trifle. I had for some time been ready for such an engagement; I therefore in. stantly 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
st person, though our partnership still continued. It is, por. haps, because, in fact, the whole business devolved upon me.
Meredith was no compositor, and but an indifferent pressman; and it was rarely that he aistained from hard drinking. My friends were sorry to see ine connected with him ; but I contriva ed to derive from it the utmost advantage the case admitted.
Olir first number prodnced no other effect ihan any other paper which had appeared in the province, as to type and printing; but some remarks in my peculiar style of writing; upon the dispute which then prevailed between governor Burnet, and the
* A manuscript note in the file of the American Mercury, preserved in the Pliilad:Ihia Librarv, sarsang that Franklin wrote the first five numbers, and part of the eighth.
Massachusetts assembly, struck some persons as above mediocrity, 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 patronise and encourage
The votes, laws, and other public pieces, were printed by Bradford. An address of the house of assembly to the governor had been executed by him. in a very coarse and incorrect manner. printed it with accuracy and neatness, and sent a copy to every member. They perceived the difference; and it so strengthened the influence of our friends in the assembly, that we were nominated its printers for the following year.
Among these 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 occasion, as he likewise did 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 hin, but without pressing me for payment. I wrote him a handsome letter on the occasion, begging him to wait a little longer, so which he consented ; and as soon as I was able I paid him, principal and interest, with many expres. sions of gratitude; so that this error of my life was in a nianner atoned for.
But another trouble now happened to me, which I had not the smallest reason to expect.
Mtredith'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 still due, and the merchant being tired of waiting commenced a suit against us. We bail. ed the action, but with the melancholy prospect, that, if the money was not forth coming at the time fixed, the affair would come to issue, judgment be put
in execution, our delightful hopes annihilated, and ourselves entirely ruined ; as the type and press must be sold, perhaps at half their value, to pay the debt.
In this distress, two real friends, whose generous conduct I have never forgotten, and never shall forget while I retain the remembrance of any thing, came to me separately, without the knowledge of each other, and without my having applied to them. Each offered me whatever sum might be necessary, to take the business into my own hands, if the thing was practicable, as they did not like I should continue in partnership with Meredith, who, they said, was frequently seen drunk in the streets, and gambliig at ale-houses, which very much injured our credit. These friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace. I tuld them that while there remained any probability that the Merediths would fulfil their
of the compact, I could not propose a separation; as I conceived myself to be under obligations to them for what they had done already, and were still disposed to do if they had the power: but in the end should they fail in their engagement, and our partnership be dissolved, I should then think myself at liberty to accept the kindness of my friends.