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workinan; but if you agree to the proposal. your skill in the business will be balanced by the capital I shall surnish, and we will share the profits equally." His proposal was svajonable, and I fell in with it. His father, who was then in the town, approvcil of it. He knew that I had some ascendancy ovsr his son, as I had been able to prevail on hea to abstain a long time frow drinking brandy: and he hoped that, ' when more closely connected with him, I should cure him entirely of this unfortunate hable.
I gave the father a list of what it would be necessary to import from London. He took it to a perchant, and the order was given. We agreed to keep the secret till the arrival of the niaterials, and I was in the mean time to procure work, if possible, in another printing-house ; iill there was no jace vacant, and I re:nained idle. After some days, Keimer having the expectation of being emploved to print some NewJersey money bills, that wouli require types and engravings which I orly could furnish, and fearful that Bradford, by engaging me, might deprive him of this undertaking, sent in a very civil message, telling me that old friends ought not to be disımited on account of a few words, which were the effect only of a momentary passion, and inviting me to return to him. Meredith persuadel me to comply with the invitation, particularly 2. it would afford biin more opportunities of improving himself in the business by means of my instructions. I did so; and we lived upon better terms than before our separation.
He obtained the New Jersey business; and, in or der to execute it, I constructed a copper-plate printing press, the first that has been seen in the country. I engraved various ornaments and vignettes for the bills and we repaired to Burlington together, where I exo cuted the whole to general satisfaction: and he receiv. ed a sum of money for this work, which enabled him to keep his head above water for a considerable tiine longer
At Burlington I formed an acquaintance with the principal personages of the province; many of whom were commissioned by the Assembly to superintend the press, and tu see that no more bills were primed
than the law had prescribed. Accordingly they were constantly with us, each in his turn; and he that came, commonly brought with him a friend or two to bea: him company. My mind was more cultiated by reading than Keimer's; and it was for this reasoil, probably, that they set more value on my conversation They took me to their houses, introduced me to their friends, ard treated me with the greatest civility; while Keimer, though naster, saw hinself a littie neglected He was, in fact, a strange animal, ignorant of the com mon modes of life, apt to oppose with rudeness gen erally received opinions, an enthusiast in certain points of religion, disgustingly unclean in his person, and a little knavish withal
We remained there nearly three months; and ai the expiration of this period I could include in the list of my friends, Judge Allen, Samuel Bustil, secre. tary of the province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper, several of the Smiths, all meinbers of the Assembly, and Isaac Decon, inspector-general. The last was a shrewd and subtle old man. He told me, that when a boy, his first employment had been that of carrying clay to brick-makers; tliat he did not learn to write till he was somewhat advanced in life; that he was afterwards ernployed as an underling to a surveyor, who taught him this trade, and that by industry he had at last acquired a competunt fortune. “I foresee, said he one day to me that you will soon supplant this man (speakin: of Keimer,) and get a fortune in the business at Philadelphia." He was totally igno. rant at the time, of my intention of establishing my. self there, or any where else. These friends were very sc:viceable to me in the end, as I was also, upon occasion, to some of them; and they have continued ever since their esteem for me.
Before I relate thc particulars of my entrance into business, it may be proper to inform you what was at that time the state of my mind as to moral prirciples, Wat you may see the cicgree of influence they had upon che subsequent events of my life.
My parents had given me berimnes religious impres. sions, and I received from my infancy a pious edu. cation in the principles of Calvanism. But scarcely
was I arrived at fifteen years of age, when, after hawa ing doubted w turn of different tenets, accordirig as I found them coinbated in the different books that I read, I began to doubt oi revelation itself. Some volumes against deisin fell into my hands. They were said to be the substance of serions preached at Boyle's Lecture. It happened that they produced un me an effect precisely the reverse of what was intended by the writers; for the argments of the deists, which were cited in order to be refuted, appeared to me much more forcible than the refutation itself. In a word, I socn became a perfect deist. My arguments perverted some other young persons, particu. larly Collins and Ralph. But in the sequel, when I recollected that they had both uscu me extraniely ill, without the smallest remorse ; when I considered the behaviour of Keith, another (rec-thinker, and my own conduct towards Vernon and Miss Read, whicii, at tirnes, gave me great uncasiness, I was led to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful. I began to entertain a less favourable opinion of my London pamphlet, to which I had prefixed, as a inotin, the following lines of Dryden :
| Whatever is is right; though purblind man
And of which the object was to prove, from the attributes of God, his goodness, wisilom and power, that there could he no such thing as evil in the world ; tha vice and virtue did not in reality exist, and wen nothiag niore than vain distinctions. I no longer re garded it as so blameless a work as I had fonneris imagined; and I suspected that sore error must have imperceptibly glided into my argument, hy which all the inferences I had drawn irom it had been affected, as frequently happens in metaphysical reasonings. In a word, I was at last cot:0 niced that truth, probity, and sincerity, in transactions between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the happiness of ife; and I resolved from that moment, and wrote the
resolution in my Journal, to practise thein as long as I lived.
Revelation, indeed, as such, had no influence on my mind; but I was os opinion that, though certain actions could not be bad merely because revelation had prohibited thern, or good because it enjoined them, yet it was probable that those actions were prohibited because they were bad for us, or enjoined because advantageous in their nature, all things cour sidered. This persuasion, Divine Provinence, or sono guardian angel, and perhaps a concurrence of favourable circumstances co-operating, preserved me froiu all iromorality, or gross and voluntary injustice, to which my want of religion was calculated to expose me, in the dangerous period of youth, and in the hazardous situations in which I sometimes found my. seks, ainor.g strangers, and at a distance from the eye and admonitions o! my father. I may say voiuntury, because the errors into which I had fallen, had been, in a manner, the forced result either of my own inex. perience, or the dishonesty of others. Tnus, before I entered on my own new career, I had imbibe solid principles, and a character of probity. I knew their value ; and I made a solemn engageinent with my. self never to depart from them.
I had not long rerumned from Burlington before our printing materials arrived from London. I settled my accounts with Keimer, and quitted him, with his uwn consent, beforç he had any knowledge of our plan. We found a house to let near the market. We look it; and, to render the rent less bu: Jensome (it was then twenty-four pounds a year, but I have since known it let for seventy), we admitted Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, with his family, who eased iis of a considerable part of it; and with him we agreed 10 onard.
We had no sooner unpacked our letters, and put our press in order, than a person of my acquaintance, George House, brought us a countrymar, whom lie had met in the streets inquiring for a printer. Our money was almost exhausted by the number of things we had been obliged to procure. T'he five shillings we received frous this countryman, the first fiuit of
our earnings, coming so seasonab;y, gave me mom pleasure than any sum I liave since gained; and the recollection of the gratitude I felt on this occasion to George House, has rendered me often more disposed, than perhaps I should otherwise have been, to encourage young beginners in trade.
There are in every country morose beings, who are, always prognosticating ruin. There was one of this stamp 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 Samue Mickle. I knew him not; but he stopped one day as my door, and asked me if I was the yüung man who had lately opened a new printing-house. Upor my answering in the affirmative, he said that he was very sorry for me, as it was an expensive undertaking, and the money that had been laid nut upun it would be lost, Philadelphia being a place falling into decay; its inhabitants having all, or nearly all of them, been obliged to call together their creditors. That lie knew, from undoubted fact, the circunstances which might lead us to suppose the contrary, such as litw builo. ings, and the advance
ice of rent, to be deceitful appearances, which, in reality, contributed to hasten the general ruin; and he gave me so long a detail of misfortunes, actually existing, or which were soon to take place, that he left me almost in a state of despair. Had I known this man before I entered mio tracie, I should doubtless never have ventured. He continued however, to live in this place of decay, and to declaim in the same style, refusing for many years to buy a house, berjuse all was going to wreck; and, in the end, I hau tne satisfaction to sce him pay five times as much for one, as it would have cost him, had he purchased it when he first began his lamentations.
I ought to have related, that, during ihe autumn of the preceding year, I had united the majority of wellinformed persous of my acquaintance, into a rlub, which we called by the name of the Junto, and the nhject of which was to improve our understandings, We met every Friday evening. The regulations I drew' up, obliged every member to propose, in his turn, one or more questions upon some point of me