Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Things remained for some time in this state. At last I said one day to my partner,

16 Your fa. ther is perhaps dissatisfied with vour having a share only in the business, aud is unwilling to do for two, what he would do for

you

alone. Tell me frankly i that be the case, and I will resign the whole :o you, and do for myself as well as I can.' “ No (iaid he) my father has really been disappointed in his hopes ; he is not able to pay, and I wish to put him to no further inconvenience. I see that I am not at all calculated for a printer; I was educated as a farmer, and it was absurd 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 settle in North Carolina, wh're the soil is exceedingly favore able. I am tempted to go with them, and to resume my former occupation. You will doubiless find friends who will assist you.

If you will take upon yourself the debts of the partnership, return my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay my licile personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will renounce the partnership, and consign over the whole stock to you."

I accepted this proposal without hesitation. Ic was committed to paper, and signed without delave I gave him what he demanded, and he departed soon after for Carolina, from whence he sent me, in the following year, two long letters, containing the best accounts that had yet been given of that country, as to climate, soil, agriculture, &c. for he was versed in these matters. I published them in inv newspaper, and they were received with great satisfaction.

As soon as he was gone I applied to my two friends, and not wishing to give a disobliging prea forence to either, I accepted from each half what he had offered me, and which it was necessary I should have. I paid the partnership debts, and continued the business on my own account; taking care to inform the public, by advertisement, on the partnership being dissolved. This was, I think in the year 1729, or thereabout.

Nearlı at the same period the people demanded a new émission of paper money; the existing and the only one that had taken place in the province, and which amounted to fifteen thousand pounds, being soon to expire. The wealthy inhabitants, prejudiced against every sort of paper currency, from the fear of its depreciation, of which there had been air instance in the province of New England, to the injury of its holders, strongly opposed the measure. We had discussed this affair in our junto, in which I was on the side of the new emission; convinced that the first small sum, fabricated in 1723, had done much good in the province, by favoring commerce, industry and population, since all the houses were now inhabited, and many others building; whereas I remembered to have seen, when first I parad.de the streets of Philadelphia eating my roll, the majority of those in Walnut-street, Second-street, Fourth street, as well as a great number in Chesnut and other streets, with papers on them signifi ing that they were to be let; which made me think at the time that the inhabitants of the town were deserting ät one after another.

Our debates made me so fully master of the muhject, that I wrote and published an anonymous pamphlet; entitled An Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currenik. It was very well received by the lower and middling class of people; but it displasrd the opulent, as it increased ihe ol::mor in favour of the new e mission. Havirg, However, no writer among them capable of answer Ing it, their opposition became less violent; and there being in the house of assembly à majority for the measure, it passed. The friends I had acquired in the house, persuaded me that I had done the country essential service on this occasion, reward d me by giving me the printing of the bills. It was a lucrative employment, and proved a very season. able help to me; another advantage which I derived from having habituated myself to write.

Time and experience so fully demonstrated the utility of paper currency, that it never after experie enced any considerable opposition; so that it soon amounted to 55,000l. and in the year 1739 to 80,0001. It has since risen, during the last war, to 350,000, trade, buildings and population, having in the inter. val continually increased; but I am now convinced that there are limits beyond which paper money would be prejudicial. I soon after obtained, hy the influence of

my

friend Hamilton, the printing of the Newcastle paper moDev, another profitable work, as I then shoughı, lite tle things appearing great to persons of moderate fortune ; and they were really great to me, as prove ing great encouragements. He also procured me the printing of the laws and votes of that government, which I retained as long as I continued in the business.

I now opened a small stationer's shop. bonds and agreements of all kinds, drawn up in a more accurate form than had yet heen seen in that part of the world ; a work in which I was assisted by my friend Breintnal. I had also paper, parche ment, pasteboard, books, &c. One Whitemash, an excellent compositor, whom I had known in London, came to offer himself. I engaged hiin, and he continued constantly and diligently to work with me. I also took an apprentice, the son of Aquila: Kose.

I kept I began to pay, by digrees, the debt I had come tracted; and in order to insure my credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not only to be really industrious and frugal, but also to avoid every appearance of the contrary. I was plainly dressed, and never seen in any place of public amusement. I never went a fishing or hunting: A book indeed enticed me sometimes from my work, but it was seldom, bv stealth, and occasioned no scandal; and to show that I did not think myself above my profession, I conveyed home sometimes in a wheel. barrsı:v the paper I purchased at the warı houses.

I thus obiained the reputation of being an indus. trious young man, and very punctnal in his paym'nts. The

<merchants who imported articles of stationary solicited my cusion ; others offered to furnish me with books, and iny little trade-went on

prosperousl.

Meanwhile the credit and business of Keimer di. minished every day, he was at last forced to sell his stock to satisfy his creditors, and he betook himself to Barbadoes, where he lived for some tiine in a very impoverish d state. Hi apprentice, Da. vid Harry', whoin I had instructed while I worked with Keimr, having bought his materials, succeed. ed him in the business. I was apprehensive, ai first, of finding in Harry a powerful competitor, as he was allied to an opulent and respectable family ; I th:r-fore proposed a partnership, which, happily for me',

he rejected with disdain. He was extremily proul, thought himself a fine gentleman, lived oxtravagantlı, and pursued amusements which suffe ed hi'n to be scarcely ever at home ; conséquence he became in debt, neglected his business, and busiA-se neglected him. Finding in a short time no. thing to do in the country, he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, carrying his printing maicrials with him

[ocr errors]

of

There the apprentice employed his old master as a journeyman. They were continually quarrelling; and Harry still getting in debt, was obliged at last to sell his press and types, and return to his old occupation of husbandry in Pennsylvania. The person who purchased them employed Keimer to manage the business, but he died a few years after.

I had now at Philadelphia no competitor but Bradford, who, being in easy circumstances, 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 ihe direction of the post-office, and was of consequence supposed to have better opportunities of obtaining news.

His
paper was

also supposed to be more advantageous to advertising customers; and in consequence of that supposition, his advertisements were much more numerous than mine: this was a source of great profit to him, and disadvantageous to me.

It was to no purpose that I really procured other papers, and distributed

iny own, by means of the post; the public took for granted my inability in this respect; and I was indeed unable to con quer

it in any other mode than by bribing the postboys, who served me only by stealth, Bradford being so illiberal as to foibid them. This treatment of his excited my resentment; and my disgust was so rooted, that, when I afterwards succeeded him in the post office, I took care to avoid copying his ex® ample.

I had hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who, with his wife and children, occupied part of my house, and half of the shop for his business; at which indeed he worked very little, being always absorbed by mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey formed

« PreviousContinue »