網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

rate form than had yet been seen in that part of the world : a work in which I was assisted by my friend Brientnal. "I had also paper, parchment, pasteboard, books, &c. One Whitemash, an excellent compositor, whom I had known in London, came to offer himself. I engaged him, and he continued constantly and diligently to work with me. I also took an apprentice, the son of Aquila Rose,

I began to pay, by degrees, the debt"I had contracte ed; 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 nerer seen in any place of public amusement. I never went a fishing or hunting. A book indeed inticed me some. times from my work, but it was seldom, by stealth, and occasioned no scandal; and to show that I did not think myself above my profession, I conveyed home sometimes in a wheelbarrow the paper I purchased at the warehouses.

I thus obtained the reputation of being an industrious young man, and very punctual in his payments. The merchants who imported articles of stationary, solicited my custom ; others offered to furnish me with books, and my little trade went on prosperously.

Meanwhile the credit and business of Keimcr dimi. nished every day, he was at last forced to sell his stock to satisfy his creditors ; and he betook himself to Bar. badoes, where he lived for some time in a very impoverished ståte. His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had instructed while I worked with Keimer, having bought his materials, slicceeded him in the business. I was apprehensive, at first, of finding in Harry a power. ful competitor, as he was allied to an opulent and respectable family; I therefore proposed a partnership, which happily for me, he rejected with disdain. He was extremely proud, thought himself a fine gentleman, lived extravagantly, and pursued amusements which suffered him to be scarcely ever at home ; of consequence he becanie in debt, neglected his business,

and business neglected him. Finding in a short time nothing to do in the country, he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, carrying his printing materials with him. 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, wilo, being in easy circumstances, did not engage in the Printing of books, except now and then as work. men 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 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 procur. ed other papers, and distributed my own, by means of the post; the public took for granted my inability in this respect; and I was indeed unable to conquer it in any other mode than by bribing the post-boys, who served me only by stealth, Bradford being so illiberal as to forbid them. This creatment 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 example.

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 a wish of marrying me to the daughter of one of her relations. She contrived various opportunities of bringing us together, till she saw that I was captivated; which was not dif

ficult the lady in question possessing great personal merit. The parents encouraged my addresses, by it. viting me continually to supper, and leaving us together, till 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 sum 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 me for answer, that they had no such sum at their disposal. I observed that it might easily be obtained, by å mortgage on their house. The reply of this was, after a few days interval, that they did not approve of the match; that they had consulted Bradford, and found that the business of a printer was not lucrative ; that my letters would soon be worn out, and niust be supplied with new ones ; that Keimer and Harry had failed. and that, probably, I should do so 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, supposing our affections to be too far engaged for us to desist, and that we should contrive to marry secretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not as they pleased. But, suspecting this motive, I never went again to their house.

Some time after Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were favourably disposed towards me, and wished me to renew the acquaintance; but I declared a firm resolution never to have any thing more to do with the family. The Godfrey's expressed some resentment at this ; and as we could no longer agree, they changed their residence, leaving me in possession of the whole house. I then resolved 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; bu soon foun

the profession of a printer being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect no money with a wife, at least if I wish

ed her to possess any other charin. Meanwhile, that passion of youth, so difficult to govern, had often drawn me into intrigues with desp cable women, who fell in my way; which were not unaccompanied with expence and inconvepience, besides the perpetual risk of injuring my health, and catching a disease which I dreaded above all things. But I was fortunate enough to escape this danger.

As a neighbour and old acquaintance, I kept up a friendly intimacy with the family of Miss Read. Her parents had retained an affection for me from the time of my lodging in their house. I was often invited thither ; they consulted me about their affairs, and I had been sometimes serviceable to them I was touched with the unhappy situation of their daughter, who was almost always melancholy, and continually seeking solitude. I regarded my forgetfulness and inconstancy, during my abode in London, as the principal cause of her misfortune; though her mother had the candour to attribute the fault to herself, rather than to me, because after having prevented our marriage previous to my departure she had induced her to marry another in my absence.

Our mutual affection revived ; but there existed great obstacles to our uvion. Her marriage was considered, indeed, as not being valid, the man having, it was said, a former wife still living in England; but of this it was difficult to obtain a proof at so great a distance; and though a report prevailed of his being dead, yet we had no certainty of it; and supposing it to be true, he had left many debts, for the payment of which his successor might be sued. We ventured neverthe. less, in spite of all these difficulties, and I married her on the first of September 1730. None of the inconveniences we had feared happened to us; she proved to me a good and faithful companion, and contributed essentially to the success of my shop. We prospered together, and it was our mutual study to render each

other happy. Thus I corrected, as well as I could, this great error of my youth.

Our club was not at that time established at a tavern. We held our 'meetings at the house of Mr. Grace who appropriated a room to the purpose. Some member observed one day, that as our books were frequently quoted in the course of our discussions, it would be convenient to have them collected in the room in which we assembled, in order to be consulted upon occasion; and that, by thus forming a common library of our individual collections, each would have the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would nearly be the same as if he possessed them all himself. The idea was approved, and we accordingly brought such books as we thought we could spare, which were placed at the end of the club-room. They amounted not to so many as we expected ; and though we made considerable use of them, yet some inconveniencies resulting, from want of care, it was agreed, after about a year, to destroy the collection ; and each took away such books as belonged to him.

It was now that I first stated the idea of establishing, by subscription, a public library. I drew up the proposals, had them ingrossed in form by Brockden the attorney, and my project succeeded, as will be seen in the sequel

[The life of Dr. Franklin, as written by himself, so far as it has been communicated to the world, breaks off in this place. We understand that it was continued by him somewhat further, and we hope that the remainder will, at some future period, be communicated to the public. We have no hesitation in supposing that every reader will find himself greatly interest. ed by the frank simplicity and the philosophical discernment by which these pages are so eminently characterised. We have therefore thought proper, in

« 上一頁繼續 »