Part 4 out of 8
inoculation was received with delight by many. Cotton Mather examined
its claims, and so did his father, Increase Mather; and both endorsed
it. But the _Courant_, for some reason, opposed it, and brought all
its resources of ridicule and sarcasm to make it appear ridiculous. A
writer in its columns called it the "minister's remedy," because the
clergy favored it. Week after week it denounced the method, and warned
the people. Finally, Increase Mather publicly called attention to the
scandalous sheet, and besought the people to crush it, lest the
judgments of God be brought down upon the land for its highhanded
That the treatment of James Franklin by the authorities was not
justified by thoughtful citizens in other parts of the country is
evident from the following extract from the _Philadelphia Mercury_:
"The injustice of imprisoning a man without a hearing must be apparent
to all. An indifferent person would judge from this conduct, that the
Assembly of Massachusetts are oppressors and bigots, who make religion
only an engine of destruction to the people. We pity the people who
are compelled to submit to the tyranny of priestcraft and hypocrisy."
Then followed a sarcastic postscript, over which the reader may smile:
"P.S. By private letter from Boston, we are informed, that the bakers
are under great apprehensions of being forbid baking any more bread,
unless they will submit to the Secretary as supervisor general and
weigher of the dough, before it is baked into bread and offered to
The closing sentence referred to the action of the Legislature in
enacting that Franklin should publish nothing more without first
submitting it to the Secretary of the Province and receiving his
endorsement--legislation that will be quoted in the next chapter.
Franklin continued to issue the _Courant_ after his imprisonment with
more plainness and exposure of public wrongs than he did before. For
several months he handled the governor and public officers severely,
never forgetting those ministers who supported the cause of the king
instead of the cause of New England. He little thought that he was
fighting a battle for the ages to come. From his day the press in our
country began to enjoy liberty. He began a conflict which did not end
until liberty of speech and press was proclaimed throughout the land.
Men have often contended for right, and started enterprises, the
results of which the divinest prophet could never have foretold. When
John Pounds, the poor Portsmouth shoemaker, with a passion for doing
good to those who needed it most, gathered a few street-arabs into his
shanty to teach them something good, while he hammered his leather and
mended shoes, he did not dream that he was inaugurating a benevolent
enterprise that would spread throughout the Christian world. But he
did, and to-day the fifteen millions of old and young in the Sabbath
schools of our Republic are but the growth and development he began in
his shop. In like manner, the Franklin brothers inaugurated a measure
that culminated in the complete freedom of the press.
 Parton's Life of Franklin, vol. i, p. 88.
THE BOY EDITOR.
For six months the _Courant_ continued its attacks upon the
government, after the editor came out of prison. It took up also, the
inconsistencies of church members, and discussed them with great
plainness. But the number of the paper for Jan. 14, 1723, was too much
for aristocratic flesh and blood, and almost too much for blood that
was not aristocratic. The Council was incensed, and adopted the
"IN COUNCIL, Jan. 14, 1723.
"WHEREAS, The paper, called _The New England Courant_ of this day's
date, contains many passages in which the Holy Scriptures are
perverted, and the Civil Government, Ministers, and People of the
Province highly reflected on,
"_Ordered_, That William Tailer, Samuel Sewell, and Penn Townsend,
Esqrs., with such as the Honorable House of Representatives shall
join, be a committee to consider and report what is proper for the
Court to do thereon."
The House of Representatives concurred in the measure, and it was
rushed through, as measures are likely to be when the dander of
legislators is up, and the committee reported as follows:
"That James Franklin, the printer and publisher thereof, be strictly
forbidden by the Court to print or publish _The New England Courant_,
or any other pamphlet or paper of the like nature, except that it is
first supervised by the Secretary of the Province; and the Justices of
His Majesty's Sessions of the Peace for the County of Suffolk, at
their next adjournment, be directed to take sufficient bonds of the
said Franklin for twelve months' time."
As soon as the Council took this action, the _Courant_ club was called
together, and the whole matter canvassed.
"The next thing will be an order that no one of us shall have a pair
of breeches without permission from the Secretary of the Province,"
remarked one, sarcastically. "The Secretary has not brains enough to
pass judgment upon some of our articles, and he is too English to
judge rightly of New England necessities."
"We should appear smart, tugging our articles over to the Secretary
each week for his permission to print them," suggested James. "I shall
never do it as long as my name is James Franklin."
"Nor I," added one of the club.
"Nor I," another.
"Nor I," another still.
There was but one mind in the company; and all were disposed to fight
it out on the line of freedom of the press.
"But, do you notice," added one of the club, "that no one but James
Franklin is forbidden to publish the _Courant_? Some other person can
"Sure enough, that is so," responded James, "and here is our way out
of the difficulty."
"Of course you can not publish it yourself," addressing James, "in
defiance of this order of the Council."
"Of course not; but Benjamin Franklin can do it, as he is not
forbidden. How would that do?"
"That can not be done, because he is only an apprentice," suggested a
former speaker. "They can prove that he is your apprentice readily."
"Well, I can meet that difficulty without any trouble," said James,
who was intent upon evading the order of the Court.
"Pray, tell us how? By changing the name of the paper?"
"Not by any means. Now is not the time to part with a name that the
magistrates and ministers are so much in love with."
"How, then, can you meet the difficulty?"
"Well, I can return his indenture, with his discharge upon the back of
it, and he can show it in case of necessity. At the same time he can
sign a new indenture that will be kept a secret."
"Capital!" exclaimed one; "I never thought of that. The measure is a
practical one, and I move that we reduce it to practice at once."
"I support it with all my heart, not only as practical, but
ingenious," added another. "It is honorable to meet the tyranny of the
Council with an innocent subterfuge like that."
All agreed to the plan, and adopted it enthusiastically.
"Benjamin Franklin, Editor of the _Courant_," exclaimed a member of
the club, rising from his seat and patting Benjamin on the shoulder.
"Don't that sound well, my boy? Rather a young fellow to have in
charge such an enterprise, but a match, I guess, for the General Court
of the Province."
"The youngest editor, proprietor, and publisher of a paper in the
whole land, no doubt," suggested another. "But it is as true here as
it is in other things, 'Old men for counsel, young men for war.' We
are at war now, and we do not want an editor who will cry peace, when
there is no peace."
"A free man, too," suggested another facetiously, "an apprentice no
longer, to be knocked about and treated as an underling. At the top,
with the laurels of manhood on the brow of sixteen!"
Benjamin had not spoken, but he had listened. Affairs had taken an
unexpected turn. In the morning he had no idea of becoming
editor-in-chief of the paper that made more stir in Boston than the
other two combined. The promotion rather startled him. Not that he
shrank from the responsibility; for he had no hesitation in assuming
that; but the promotion was wholly unexpected. The honors came upon
him suddenly, in a way he never dreamed of. It is not strange that he
was somewhat dumbfounded, though not confounded. He maintained
silence, because, in the circumstances, he could say nothing better
The plan of James having been adopted, all hastened to carry out the
details. Benjamin received his indenture, with the endorsement that
constituted him a free man, and he was announced as the publisher of
the _Courant_, and as such his name appeared upon the paper, also as
In the next issue James inserted the following in the _Courant_:
"The late publisher of this paper, finding so many inconveniences
would arise, by his carrying the manuscripts and the public news to be
supervised by the Secretary, as to render his carrying it on
unprofitable, has entirely dropped the undertaking."
Benjamin inserted an amusing salutatory, as if the _Courant_ was
appearing before the public for the first time. It was as follows:
"Long has the press groaned in bringing forth a hateful brood of
pamphlets, malicious scribbles, and billingsgate ribaldry. No generous
and impartial person then can blame the present undertaking, which is
designed purely for the diversion and merriment of the reader. Pieces
of pleasantry and mirth have a secret charm in them to allay the heats
and tumults of our spirits, and to make a man forget his restless
resentment. The main design of this weekly paper will be to entertain
the town with the most comical and diverting incidents of human life,
which, in so large a place as Boston, will not fail of a universal
exemplification. Nor shall we be wanting to fill up these papers with
a grateful interspersion of more serious words, which may be drawn
from the most ludicrous and odd parts of life."
Pretty good for a boy of sixteen! Good sense, tact, humor, and
rhetoric combined in one brief paragraph! Not only the youngest editor
in 1723, but the youngest editor of a city paper from that day to
this, so far as we know. On the fact hangs a tale of the wonderful
powers of a boy who can occupy such a place, and fill it.
We have said that the _Courant_ of Jan. 14, 1723, was filled with
matter that exasperated officials of the Province. The reader will
want to know what some of those utterances were. We will copy a few:
"Religion is indeed the principal thing, but too much of it is worse
than none at all. The world abounds with knaves and villains; but, of
all knaves, the religious knave is the worst, and villainies acted
under the cloak of religion the most execrable. Moral honesty, though
it will not itself carry a man to heaven, yet I am sure there is no
going thither without it."
"But are there such men as these in thee, O New England? Heaven forbid
there should be any; but, alas, it is to be feared the number is not
small. '_Give me an honest man_,' say some, '_for all a religious
man_'; a distinction which I confess I never heard of before. The
whole country suffers for the villainies of a few such wolves in
sheep's clothing, and we are all represented as a pack of knaves and
hypocrites for their sakes."
"In old Time it was no disrespect for Men and Women to be called by
their own Names. _Adam_ was never called _Master_ Adam; we never heard
of Noah, _Esquire_, Lot, _Knight_ and _Baronet_, nor the _Right
Honorable_ Abraham, _Viscount_ Mesopotamia, _Baron_ of Canaan. No, no;
they were plain Men, honest Country Graziers, that took care of their
Families and their Flocks. _Moses_ was a great Prophet, and _Aaron_ a
priest of the Lord; but we never read of the _Reverend_ Moses, nor the
_Right Reverend Father in God_, Aaron, by Divine Providence, _Lord
Arch-Bishop_ of Israel. Thou never sawest _Madam_ Rebecca in the
Bible, _My Lady_ Rachel, nor _Mary_, tho' a Princess of the Blood
after the death of _Joseph_, called the _Princess Dowager_ of
Nazareth. No; plain _Rebecca, Rachel, Mary_, or the _Widow_ Mary, or
the like. It was no Incivility then to mention their naked Names as
they were expressed.
"Yet, one of our Club will undertake to prove, that tho' _Abraham_ was
not styled _Right Honorable_, yet he had the Title of _Lord_ given him
by his Wife _Sarah_, which he thinks entitles her to the Honour of _My
Lady_ Sarah; and _Rachel_, being married into the same Family, he
concludes that she may deserve the Title of _My Lady_ Rachel. But this
is but the Opinion of one Man; it was never put to vote in the
"On the whole, Friend James, we may conclude, that the
_Anti-Couranteers_ [opponents of the _Courant_] are a sort of
_Precisians_, who, mistaking Religion for the peculiar Whims of their
own distemp'rd Brain, are for cutting or stretching all Men to their
own Standard of Thinking. I wish Mr. Symmes' Character may secure him
from the Woes and Curses they are so free of dispensing among their
dissenting neighbours, who are so unfortunate as to discover a
Cheerfulness becoming Christianity."
It is not questioned that Benjamin wrote these paragraphs, among
others; and for keen satire they are very remarkable as the
composition of a boy of sixteen. At the present day they would be
regarded as quaint, able and truthful, without awakening opposition.
But, in 1723, no doubt there were tender consciences among the
official sycophants of the English Government, that made a just
application of these cutting words, so as to become exasperated and
bitter. Hence, their tyrannical and unjustifiable legislation.
Mr. Parton mentions a fact that should be noted here: "Until the
Revolution, the business of publishing newspapers in America was
carried on almost exclusively by postmasters. Newspapers went free of
postage in the colonies as late as 1758. Until that time, the
postmasters had not only the privilege of sending papers through the
mail free, but the still more valuable right of excluding from the
mail papers published by others. Accordingly, we find that nearly all
the pioneers of the press, in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, were
postmasters. When a postmaster lost his office he generally sold out
his newspaper, and a new postmaster soon bought or established one.
John Campbell, however, feeling himself aggrieved by his removal, did
not dispose of the _News-letter_ [first paper in this country]; which
induced his successor, William Brocker, to set up a paper of his own,
the _Boston Gazette_, which appeared in December, 1719. Mr. Brocker
expressly says, in his prospectus, that he started the new paper at
the request of several merchants, and others, who 'have been
_prevented_ from having their newspaper sent them by the post, ever
since Mr. Campbell was removed from being postmaster.'"
It is a significant fact that, in 1758, newspapers ceased to be
carried free in the mails, and a charge of ninepence a year for each
fifty miles of carriage was assessed; and our Benjamin brought about
the change. He was then known as Deputy Postmaster General, and made
the change in the interest of the public welfare. We think that, at
the time, he must have recalled his tussle with the General Court,
when, at sixteen, he edited the _Courant_.
Benjamin continued in his brother's printing office eight months after
the occurrence just narrated, editor and publisher of the _Courant_.
His brother never run the paper again in his own name, and,
subsequently, he removed to Newport, R.I., where he established the
_Rhode Island Gazette_ in 1732.
Benjamin kept up his running fire against the truckling
representatives of the British government, including ministers who
were not outspoken against oppression and the censorship of the press.
The blade of his satire became brighter and keener, and the
circulation of the paper increased largely, showing that the portion
of the population having the true American spirit, were in sympathy
with the purpose of the paper. Mr. Sparks says of it:
"It touched with great freedom the vices and follies of the time. The
weapon of satire was used with an unsparing hand. Neither the
government nor the clergy escaped. Much caution was practised,
however, in regard to individuals, and names were seldom introduced.
There are some severe and humorous criticisms on the poets of the day,
which may be classed with the best specimens of this kind of
composition in the modern reviews. The humor sometimes degenerates
into coarseness, and the phraseology is often harsh; but, bating these
faults, the paper contains nothing, which in later times would have
been deemed reprehensible."
Of the action of the General Court, imprisoning James Franklin, Mr.
Sparks says: "He was sentenced by a vote of the Assembly, without any
specification of offensive passages, or any trial before a court of
justice. This was probably the first transaction, in the American
Colonies, relating to the freedom of the press; and it is not less
remarkable for the assumption of power on the part of the legislature,
than for their disregard of the first principles and established forms
This is a fair and just estimate of the affair. Probably officials saw
their mistake, and concluded not to repeat it; for Benjamin was not
molested in his business, though he continued to be as saucy and
sarcastic as ever. From that day freedom of the press was assured in
This narrative of Benjamin's connection with the printing office, at
the time a new paper was to be established, shows that the
circumstances called out a certain kind of talent he possessed, and
thus helped to make him what he became. Success depends in a great
measure on early directing the young in the path to which their
natural endowments point. Square men should be put into square holes,
and round men into round holes. Many careers are spoiled by reversing
this law of nature, getting square men into round holes, and round men
into square holes. A good mechanic has often been spoiled to make an
indifferent clergyman or merchant, and a good minister has been
spoiled to make a commonplace artisan. Overlooking the "natural bent,"
the youth has selected an occupation (or his father for him) for which
he has no special aptitude, and he brings little to pass.
Benjamin was a square youth, and he got into a square hole, which he
just fitted. He was not there by his own election; he was there by the
lead of Providence, and he cheerfully acquiesced. Becoming the right
boy in the right place, he grew into stalwart manhood and a useful
life, as naturally as the sapling on congenial soil grows into the
thrifty, fruit-bearing tree.
In the second chapter we spoke of Boston, in the infancy of Benjamin,
as a place where bears were plenty, and other wild animals roamed. The
_Courant_ contained the following paragraph, about the time of its
contest with the Court, and we copy it as a fitting close to this
"It is thought that not less than twenty Bears have been killed in
about a week's time within two miles of Boston. Two have been killed
below the Castle, as they were swimming from one island to another,
and one attempted to board a boat out in the bay, but the men defended
themselves so well with the boat-hook and oars, that they put out her
eyes, and then killed her. On Tuesday last two were killed at
Dorchester, one of which weighed sixty pounds a quarter. We hear from
Providence that the bears appear to be very thick in those parts."
 Vol. i, p. 78.
THE YOUNG SKEPTIC.
"What book have you there, Ben?" inquired John Collins, some time
before the newspaper enterprise was started.
"Lord Shaftesbury's work. I have been looking into it for some time;
and Anthony Collins' work, too," answered Benjamin. "I suppose that my
father would say they are not quite Orthodox; but they are very
interesting, and I think their views are reasonable."
"I have been questioning your Orthodoxy for some time, Ben, but I
thought you would come out all right in the end, and so I have said
nothing. I do not know about your coming out right if you become a
disciple of Shaftesbury." John made this reply more in jest than in
earnest, for he cared little whether Benjamin was a skeptic or not.
Perhaps he was skeptical himself at that time; some things indicate as
"I think it is rather difficult to tell how I shall come out, John;
but I do not propose to believe any thing in religion, science, or any
thing else, just because my father does," responded Benjamin. "I know
that I have accepted some religious dogmas because I was taught them,
and for no other reason."
"Then you do not now believe all that you have been taught about
religion, if I understand you?"
"No, I am free to say that I do not. There is neither reason nor
wisdom in portions of the creed of the Church."
"Why, Ben, you surprise me. You are getting to be quite an infidel for
a boy. It won't do for you to read Shaftesbury and Collins any more,
if you are so easily upset by them. I do not know any thing about them,
only from what I hear. I never read a paragraph of either."
"One thing is sure," continued Benjamin. "I mean to be classed among
the few people who think for themselves. It is a small company I shall
be found in, but it is an independent one. Most people are religious
because they are so instructed. They embrace the religion of their
fathers and mothers, without asking what is true or false. I will not
be of that class. I will not be Orthodox or Heterodox because my
"There is not much danger that you will do that, Ben. Present
appearances rather indicate that the religious opinions of your father
will be blown sky-high." John did not mean quite as much as his
language in this reply denoted.
"You do not understand me. I respect my parents and their religious
opinions, though I doubt some of the doctrines they have taught me. I
never examined them until I began to read Shaftesbury and Collins, but
accepted them as correct because my father and grandfather believed
them. I shall do that no more, that is all I meant."
"Well, I can not say that you are wrong, Ben. If you make half as good
a man as your father is, by believing half the truths he believes and
advocates, you will stand pretty well in the world. I expect that we
ought to avoid religious cant, bigotry, and intolerance."
"I expect so, too; and there is much of all three existing to-day,"
Benjamin answered. "A bigot may be a well-meaning man, but so much the
worse for him. There is so much bigotry in Boston to-day, that the
minister of each denomination thinks his denomination has all the
truth and all the religion there is. I think that idea is a falsehood,
to begin with."
"I shall agree with you there, Ben. I have no question that a man may
be a Christian without believing half that most denominations profess
to believe. And I suppose that the main thing is to be Christians, and
"You are drifting to my side as fast as is necessary," remarked
Benjamin, laughing. "You will come clear over in due time. I am sure
you will, if you read Shaftesbury."
"Well, I must drift home in a hurry," responded John. "Whether I shall
drift to you, the future will reveal. You are now in too deep water
for me. I should drown if I got in where you are."
John left, and Benjamin went on thinking, as he was wont. He put more
thinking into every twenty-four hours than any three boys together in
Boston. At this time he was quite a doubter,--really a young skeptic.
In the printing office he drifted in that direction faster and faster.
He was a kind of speculator from childhood. He loved to argue. He
enjoyed being on the opposite side, to indulge his propensity to
argue. After he learned the Socratic method of reasoning, he was more
inclined to discuss religion with different parties. Perhaps he did it
to practise the method, rather than to show his aversion to religion.
But, judging from what followed, in the next three or four years, he
grew decidedly unbelieving. We can discover his lack of reverence for
the Christian religion, and want of confidence in it, in articles he
wrote for the _Courant_. Nothing very marked, it is true, but some of
his articles lean in that direction.
Besides, Benjamin was one of those talented, independent boys, who
think it is manly to break away from ancestral creeds. When he was
eleven years old he was assisting his father to pack a barrel of pork
for winter use. When the work was done he said to his father:
"Father, it would save time if you would say grace over the whole
barrel now, instead of saying it over a piece at a time."
Whether his father flogged him for such irreverence, we are not told;
nevertheless, the fact is suggestive of an element in the boy's
make-up to which the ingenious skeptic may appeal with success.
Possibly it was only the native humor of the boy, which, with his love
of fun, cropped out on that occasion. It was irreverence, however,
whatever may have been his motive.
Many were the conversations that Benjamin had with his friend, John
Collins, upon religion, after becoming thoroughly poisoned by reading
Shaftesbury and Collins.
"By the way, John, I should like to read to you what your namesake
says on the subject. Perhaps you descended straight from this
"Perhaps so; but I shall not spend time in tracing my pedigree," John
replied. "I never dared to trace my ancestors far back, for fear I
should run into some disreputable family."
"It is probably an accident that you are a Collins, so that we can't
lay it up against you, John; but I should really like to read two or
three paragraphs from Collins' work, that you may judge of him."
"Go ahead, and I will give you respectful attention. If it is above my
capacity to understand, I will not hold you responsible."
Benjamin proceeded to read from Collins' work as follows:
"Opinions, how erroneous soever, when the Effect of an impartial
Examination, will never hurt Men in the sight of God, but will
recommend Men to his Favour. For impartial Examination in the Matter
of Opinion is the best that a Man can do towards obtaining Truth, and
God, who is a wise, good, and just Being, can require no more of Men
than to do their best, and will reward them when they do their best;
and he would be the most unjust Being imaginable, if he punished Men,
who had done their best endeavor to please him. Besides, if men were
to be punished by God for mistaken Opinions, all men must be damned;
for all Men abound in mistaken Opinions."
"While Rome was in the Height of its glory for Arms, Learning, and
Politeness, there were _six hundred different Religions_ professed and
allowed therein. And this groat Variety does not appear to have had
the least Effect on the Peace of the State, or on the Temper of Men;
but, on the contrary, a very good Effect, for there is an entire
Silence of History, about the Actions of those ancient Professors,
who, it seems, lived so quietly together as to furnish no Materials
for an _Ecclesiastical History_, such as Christians have given an
Occasion for, which a Reverend Divine thus describes: '_Ecclesiastical
History_' says he, 'is chiefly spent in reciting the wild Opinions of
Hereticks (that is, in belying Hereticks); the Contentions between
Emperors and Popes; the idle and superstitious Canons, and ridiculous
Decrees and Constitutions of packed Councils; their Debates about
frivolous Matters, and playing the Fool with Religion; the
Consultations of Synods about augmenting the Revenues of the Clergy,
and establishing their Pride and Grandure; the impostures of Monks and
Fryars; the Schisms and Factions of the Church; the Tyranny, Cruelty,
and Impiety of the Clergy; insomuch that the excellent _Grotius_ says,
'_He that reads Ecclesiastical history_ reads nothing but the
_Roguery and Folly of Bishops and Churchmen_.'"
"Matthew says, Jesus _came and dwelt at_ Nazareth _that it might_ be
fulfilled, which was spoken by the Prophet saying, 'He shall be called
a Nazarene.' Which Citation does not expressly occur in any Place of
the Old Testament, and therefore cannot be literally fulfilled."
"In fine, the Prophecies, cited from the Old Testament by the Authors
of the New, do plainly relate, in their obvious and primary Sense, to
other Matters than those which they are produced to prove."
"Well," said John, interrupting, "I think that will do for my
namesake. There is nothing very wonderful to me about that. True
enough, I guess, but nothing remarkable. But how about Shaftesbury?
What has he written?"
"He disproves the miracles of the New Testament. His 'Inquiry
Concerning Virtue' and his 'Essay on the Freedom of Wit and Humour'
are interesting as novels to me."
"I prefer the novels," interrupted John.
"Perhaps you do; but Shaftesbury is one of the most ingenious and
pleasant writers known. He does not discard religion; he assails
spurious religion only."
"And spurious religion is all religion that he do not believe in, I
suppose," suggested John, "come from above or below? When a man does
not believe the Bible he tries to show it up; and so when a man do not
believe any religion but his own, he tries to explode all others."
"Read Shaftesbury, and judge for yourself," added Benjamin. "You will
fall in love with him, as I have. He is one of the most graceful and
fascinating writers I know of."
"Perhaps I will read him sometime," replied John. "I must go now; and
when I am ready for it I will call for the book."
We have not time to follow the companionship of these two youth. It
was intimate, and Benjamin succeeded in making a Shaftesbury disciple
of John, so that one was about as much of an unbeliever as the other.
In his "Autobiography," Benjamin confesses that he "_was made a
doubter by reading Shaftesbury and Collins_," although he began to
dissent from his father, as we have already seen, in his boyhood, when
he read the religious tracts of Boyle.
We know that Benjamin was charged with being an atheist by his
brother. True, it was when his brother was angry because he left him;
still, he would not have been likely to make such a statement to
others without some foundation for it. Franklin himself gives one
reason for his leaving Boston (in his "Autobiography"): "My indiscreet
disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by
good people as an infidel and atheist."
Another admission in his "Autobiography" reflects upon this subject:
"The time I allotted for writing exercises and for reading, was at
night, or before work began in the morning, _or on Sundays_, when I
contrived to be in the printing house, avoiding as much as I could the
constant attendance upon public worship, which my father used to exact
of me when I was under his care, and which I still continued to
consider a duty, though I could not afford time to practise it."
There is an intimate connection between loose religious views and the
non-observance of the Sabbath. Skeptics are not friendly to the
Sabbath as a class. It is an institution they inveigh against with
much spirit. No doubt the change going on in Benjamin's opinions had
much to do with his ceasing to attend public worship.
Fifteen years afterwards, when Benjamin was fully established in
business in Philadelphia, his parents became very anxious about his
skeptical ideas, and wrote to him about it. Their letter is not
preserved, but we have his in reply, which, while it confirms the
fact, shows him to be more reverent and thoughtful than they feared.
It is, also, evidence of a filial regard for his father and mother
that is always as beautiful as it is honorable. We furnish the letter
"PHILADELPHIA, April 13, 1738.
"_Honored Father_,--I have your favors of the 21st of March, in
which you both seem concerned lest I have imbibed some erroneous
opinions. Doubtless I have my share, and when the natural weakness
and imperfection of human understanding is considered, the
unavoidable influence of education, custom, books, and company,
upon our ways of thinking, I imagine a man must have a good deal of
vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that
all the doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false.
And, perhaps, the same may be justly said of every sect, church,
and society of men, when they assume to themselves that
infallibility which they deny to the pope and councils.
"I think opinions should be judged of by their influences and
effects; and if man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous
or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are
dangerous,--which, I hope, is the case with me.
"I am sorry you should have any uneasiness on my account, and, if
it were a thing possible for one to alter his opinions in order to
please another's, I know none whom I ought more willingly to oblige
in that respect than yourselves. But, since it is no more in a
man's power to _think_ than to _look_ like another, methinks all
that should be expected from me is to keep my mind open to
conviction; to hear patiently, and examine attentively, whatever is
offered me for that end; and, if after all I continue in the same
errors, I believe your usual charity will induce you rather to pity
and excuse than blame me; in the mean time your care and concern
for me is what I am very thankful for.
"My mother grieves that one of her sons is an Arian, another an
Arminian; what an Arminian or an Arian is, I can not say that I
very well know. The truth is, I make such distinctions very little
my study. I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy
is more regarded than virtue; and the Scriptures assure me that at
the last day we shall not be examined what we _thought_, but what
we _did_; and our recommendation will not be that we said, _Lord!
Lord_! but that we did good to our fellow-creatures. See Matt. xx.
"As to the free masons, I know no way of giving my mother a better
account of them than she seems to have at present (since it is not
allowed that women should be admitted into that secret society).
She has, I must confess, on that account, some reason to be
displeased with it; but, for any thing else, I must entreat her to
suspend her judgment till she is better informed, unless she will
believe me when I assure her that they are in general a very
harmless sort of people, and have no principles or practices that
are inconsistent with religion and good manners.
His sister also, later on, in her great anxiety for his spiritual
welfare, wrote to him, and he replied as follows:
"PHILADELPHIA, July 28, 1743.
"_Dearest Sister Jenny_,--I took your admonition very kindly, and
was far from being offended at you for it. If I say any thing about
it to you, 't is only to rectify some wrong opinions you seem to
have entertained of me; and this I do only because they give you
some uneasiness, which I am unwilling to be the occasion of. You
express yourself as if you thought I was against worshipping of
God, and doubt that good works would merit heaven; which are both
fancies of your own, I think, without foundation. I am so far from
thinking that God is not to be worshipped, that I have composed and
wrote a whole book of devotions for my own use; and I imagine there
are few if any in the world so weak as to imagine that the little
good we can do here can merit so vast a reward hereafter.
"There are some things in your New England doctrine and worship
which I do not agree with; but I do not therefore condemn them, or
desire to shake your belief or practice of them. We may dislike
things that are nevertheless right in themselves; I would only have
you make me the same allowance, and have a better opinion both of
morality and your brother. Read the pages of Mr. Edwards' late
book, entitled, 'Some Thoughts concerning the present Revival of
Religion in New England,' from 367 to 375, and, when you judge of
others, if you can perceive the fruit to be good, do not terrify
yourself that the tree may be evil; be assured it is not so, for
you know who has said, 'Men do not gather grapes off thorns, and
figs off thistles.'
"I have not time to add, but that I shall always be your
"P.S. It was not kind in you, when your sister commended good
works, to suppose she intended it a reproach to you. 'T was very
far from her thoughts."
The sequel will show much more concerning the skepticism of Franklin;
and that the time came when he saw the folly of such unbelief, and
gave his adherence to the Christian religion. At the same time, he
learned from experience the danger of reading infidel publications,
and warned the young against following his example. Indeed, there is
good reason to believe that, as early as 1728, when he was but
twenty-two years of age, he was not so much of an infidel as some of
his friends supposed; for then he prepared a code of morals and belief
for his own use, entitled "Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion."
In this document he avows his belief in "One Supreme, most perfect
Being," and prays to "be preserved from atheism, impiety, and
profaneness." Under the head of "Thanks" occur the following:
"For peace and liberty, for food and raiment, for corn, and wine, and
milk, and every kind of healthful nourishment,--Good God, I thank
"For the common benefits of air and light, for useful fire and
delicious water,--Good God, I thank Thee!
"For knowledge, and literature, and every useful art, for my friends
and their prosperity, and for the fewness of my enemies,--Good God, I
"For all my innumerable benefits, for life, and reason, and the use of
speech; for health, and joy, and every pleasant hour,--Good God, I
It is true, there is not much religion in these things; and though
they may have been adopted to satisfy the demands of conscience only,
they prove that he was not an atheist, as many supposed.
Benjamin's experience with skeptical and infidel books recalls the
experience of two young men, when about the same age, with
publications of kindred character, which came very near depriving the
United States of two good Presidents.
Before Abraham Lincoln began the study of law, he was connected with a
clique or club of young men, who made light of religion, and read
books that treated it as a delusion. It was at this time that he read
Paine's "Age of Reason" and Volney's "Ruins," through which he was
influenced to array himself against the Bible for a time,--as much of
a skeptic, almost, as any one of his boon companions. But his early
religious training soon asserted itself, and we hear no more of
hostility to religion as long as he lived. On the other hand, when he
was elected President, he spoke as follows to his friends and
neighbors, who had assembled at the station to bid him adieu on
leaving for Washington, on the eve of the late bloody Civil war:
"My Friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I
feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have
lived more than a quarter of a century. Here my children were born,
and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you
again. A duty devolves on me, which is greater, perhaps, than that
which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He
never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence,
upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I can not succeed
without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same
Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my
friends, will pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without
which I can not succeed, but with which success is certain. Again I
bid you all an affectionate farewell."
When James A. Garfield became a member of the "Black Salter's" family,
he found "Marryatt's Novels," "Sinbad the Sailor," "The Pirates' Own
Book," "Jack Halyard," "Lives of Eminent Criminals," "The Buccaneers
of the Caribbean Seas"; and being a great reader, he sat up nights to
read these works. Their effect upon him was to weaken the ties of home
and filial affection, diminish his regard for religious things, and
create within him an intense desire for a seafaring life. Nothing but
a long and painful sickness, together with the wise counsels of his
mother and a popular teacher, saved him from a wild and reckless life
upon the sea, by leading him to Christ and a nobler life, in
consequence of which his public career was one of honor, and closed in
the highest office of the land.
Neither Lincoln nor Garfield would have been President of the United
States if the spell, with which the influence of corrupt books bound
them for the time, had not been broken by juster views of real life
and nobler aims.
HOW HE QUIT BOSTON.
"I tell you how it is, John," exclaimed Benjamin, under great
excitement; "I have withstood my brother's ill treatment as long as I
am going to. I shall leave him."
"How is that, Ben? I thought your brother would treat you with more
consideration after you immortalized yourself as an editor. I knew you
had a hard time with him before the _Courant_ was started." John
Collins knew somewhat of Benjamin's troubles, the first two years of
"He has been worse since my prominence on the _Courant_; that is, at
times. I think my success aroused his jealousy, so that it fretted him
to see me, his apprentice, occupy a higher position than himself. Once
in a while he has seemed to be pleased with my prominence on the
paper, and then again it annoyed him."
"I should think you had helped him out of trouble enough to stir up
his gratitude a little, even if he had no pride in possessing so
bright a brother."
"Brother! brother!" exclaimed Benjamin. "He never thought of that
relation. I was his apprentice, to be lorded over until twenty-one
years of age. I do not think he would have treated the greatest
stranger as an apprentice more unkindly than he has me. He seemed to
think that the relation of master to an apprentice obliterates all
"That is unfortunate for both of you," remarked John, "but most
unfortunate for him, whom public opinion will judge as a brother, and
not as a master. But how will you get along with your indenture if you
"I am justified by the circumstances in using the indenture, on the
back of which is his own endorsement of my freedom. He released me
from all obligations to him, that I might run the paper when he could
"But the understanding between you was, if I remember, that it was
only a formality to evade the action of the General Court. He did not
mean that you should take advantage of it and refuse to serve him."
"That is true; but I say the circumstances justify me in using it as
if he really meant to give me my freedom. He has another indenture
which I signed, designed to be kept private, but he won't dare to
bring that out to the light of day, because it may get him into
further trouble with the General Court."
"You have the advantage of him there, I see, if you see fit to avail
yourself of it. Does James know how you feel about it?"
"He ought to know, for I have told him that I should leave him if he
continued to treat me as he has done. Probably he does not believe
that I shall quit, but I am not responsible for that. He ought to see
that such treatment would cause any apprentice to leave his master."
"What does he do that is so bad?" inquired John.
"He undertook to flog me, the other day. He did strike me, but I
showed him that I believed in self-defense, and he desisted. He has
beaten me often. I did not like the looks of an elder brother licking
a younger one, and so I put myself in a position to make such a scene
"Well, I do not think that such a scene is particularly attractive,"
responded John in his droll way. "Such a scene in the theatre would be
tragedy, I think; it could not be comedy in a civilized land."
"That is no worse than other things he does. If he would get mad and
beat me, and then be kind and considerate for a while, I should be
quite well satisfied. But he is constantly domineering over me, as if
he meant I should realize all the while that he is my legal master."
"Does your father know about it?"
"Yes, and he has been decidedly in my favor until now. We have often
laid our differences before him, and in nearly every instance, he has
supported me. But for some reason, since the last trouble he has
upheld James. Perhaps it was because I did not allow James to beat me
as masters often do their apprentices."
"What do you propose to do if you leave your brother?" continued John.
"Go to New York. I can find work there. If there is nothing there for
an extra printer to do, I will turn my hand to something else. I shall
"Why not get into one of the other printing offices in town? I do not
want you should quit Boston until I do."
"For two good reasons. The first is that my connection with the
_Courant_ stirred up the officials of the government, so that I am
obnoxious to them; and the second is, that my religious opinions have
become so well known, and have been so misrepresented, that ministers
and other good people consider me no better than an atheist. I prefer
to go among strangers, where I can have a chance to make a record for
"Better make a record here,--the best chance in the world. Here people
know who you are, or they ought to know by this time. Take my advice,
and secure a place in another printing office in Boston."
The result of this interview with John was, that Benjamin resolved to
secure a position in Boston if he could. But when he applied,
subsequently, for a situation, each printer declined to employ him.
James had been to them, anticipating that he might take this step, and
warned them against making any bargain with him. He assured them that
he should take legal steps, under the indenture of apprenticeship, to
maintain his rights if they employed him. Besides, he told them that
Benjamin did not believe the Christian religion, and he had no respect
for those who did; that, in short, he was "no better than an atheist."
James meant to compel Benjamin to continue to work for him; and he
thought if no other printer would hire him, that would end the
trouble. But the opposite effect was produced. It determined Benjamin
to quit Boston as soon as he could arrange for the change, though he
did not make known his decision to his brother. Probably his brother
did not dream of his leaving Boston for New York, or any other place.
However, Benjamin embraced the first opportunity to announce to him
that he should quit.
"I am my own man from this time," he cried, holding up his indenture
which his brother had returned to him. "This paper makes me free, and
I shall take advantage of it to leave you," and he shook the document
in James' face.
"You know that I never gave up the indenture because I relinquished
the bargain we had made. If you use it to assert and establish your
freedom, you will be guilty of a mean, contemptible act."
"I shall so use it!" and Benjamin was very defiant when he said it. "I
have borne your abuse long enough, and I will bear it no longer."
"We shall see about that. Father will have a word to say about it, you
will find. You are not of age yet." James spoke with remarkable
coolness for him, in the circumstances. He probably realized that
Benjamin had the advantage of him.
"Neither father nor any other man can force me to work for you any
longer. You have even been around to other printers, to influence them
not to employ me; and you have lied about me, telling them that I am
an atheist, and other things as bad."
"I told them nothing but the truth," replied James. "You know as well
as I do, that you believe Shaftesbury instead of the Bible."
"Well, no matter what I believe. I shall not work for you another day.
I will resort to the most menial employment for my bread and butter
before I will serve a man who will treat his own brother like a
slave." And again Benjamin flourished his indenture before the eyes of
It was not fair in Benjamin to take this advantage of his brother, and
he knew it; but his resentment triumphed over his regard for right at
the time. James returned his indenture only that he might be able to
publish the _Courant_ unmolested. It was a deceitful arrangement in
the first place, and Benjamin's use of the indenture to assert his
liberty was no more unfair and sinful than was James' device to make
him the proprietor of the paper, and thus evade the law. James was
paid in his own coin. He laid a plan to cheat the government, and he
got cheated himself. He was snared in the work of his own hands. This,
however, did not justify Benjamin in his course, as he afterwards saw
and frankly confessed. In his "Autobiography" he said:
"At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I
took upon me to assert my freedom, presuming that he would not venture
to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this
advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first _errata_ of my
life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me when under the
impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged
him to bestow upon me, though he was otherwise not an ill-natured man.
Perhaps I was too saucy and provoking."
There is no doubt that Benjamin erred in the matter. He was by nature
headstrong and independent; and, perhaps, he was more self-willed on
account of his success in the business. But, after all allowances are
made, James must be regarded as the chief offender in the troubles,
and on him the responsibility for it rests in a large measure.
Benjamin lost no time in reporting his decision to John.
"I am going to New York as soon as I can get away," he said. "What do
you suppose that fellow has done? He has been around to the other
printers and threatened to enforce his claim to my services if they
hire me; and he lied about me, also. It is settled that I shall go to
New York. I am not going to be banged about any more."
"Well, it seems rather necessary for you to go somewhere if you can't
get work here," answered John. "But how am I going to get along
without you, Ben? Couldn't you turn your hand to something else?"
"I could, but I won't. I am fully resolved to quit Boston soon, and I
am satisfied that I must leave clandestinely, or I shall not get
"How is that? Expect that your brother will lay violent hands upon you
"I expect that he and father together will prevent my leaving, if
"Have you spoken with your father about it?"
"No, I have not; nor do I intend to. He sides with James now, and that
is enough for me. I shall say nothing to him about the matter."
"Perhaps he thinks you will leave Boston if you leave James,"
suggested John. "He may think that you will clear out and go to sea.
He has not forgotten your old hankering for a life on the wave."
"Possibly; but I have no desire now to go to sea. I have a trade that
I like, and I shall stick to it until I am forced out of it."
"How do you propose to get to New York? Got any plans ahead?"
"Yes, a plan is all that I have got. It remains to be seen how I can
carry it out. I do not think I can accomplish my purpose without your
"I am at your service now, Ben, as ever before; only I would like to
understand just what I can do."
"That is what I want to talk with you about. I am not yet clear as to
my best way of escape. If I go by land, on foot, they may send
officers after me, and overtake me before I get half way there."
"Of course it would be poor policy for you to go by land, if you can
possibly go by water. There is a New York sloop in the harbor, and no
doubt it will return soon."
"But how can I get aboard? The captain will want to know who I am, and
if he knows that I am a runaway apprentice, he will refuse me a
"I can manage that," said John. "I know the captain, and I think I can
arrange with him to take you."
"Yes, but he will want large pay for it. Of course he will not take me
to New York without some money arrangement, and I have precious little
money to give him."
"You can sell some of your books," suggested John. "You will not take
them to New York with you, and you can sell them readily."
"That is a good idea, John; I will reduce it to practice at once. I
shall not want much money anyway. But suppose the captain is very
inquisitive about me, how will you get along with the case? He must be
somewhat suspicious when a Boston boy wants to be taken to New York on
"You leave that to me; I have no doubt that I can smuggle you through.
He shall not know even that your name is Franklin."
"Well, then, I will commit myself to your care. See that you manage
adroitly, even if you have to make a package of me for transportation.
I am going to New York if I am obliged to walk there."
"I will go to see the captain at once, Ben; and I will be back with my
report in two hours. Be on hand, and see if I do not make a good
bargain for your passage. You always have succeeded, and I think you
will succeed now."
"Be off, then, in a jiffy, and I will run out to see where I can
dispose of my books. I will be back in two hours, and meet you here."
They parted, and John hurried away to see the captain. He found him on
board his sloop.
"Can you take a friend of mine to New York?" he asked.
"That depends on circumstances," replied the captain. "Who is your
friend? Can't take a pauper or a criminal, you know."
"He is neither one nor the other. He is a young man about my age, a
printer by trade, and he is going to New York to find work."
"Why doesn't he find work in Boston? There are more printers in Boston
than there are in New York."
"That may be; but he prefers to work in New York. He's tired of
"Perhaps Boston is tired of him--is that so? I want to accommodate,
but I don't want to get anybody into trouble, nor get there myself."
John saw that there was no evading the captain's questions, and so he
resolved to tell the false story he had thought of on his way to the
"Well," said John, "if I must tell you the whole story, the case is
this: He is a young fellow who has been flirting with a girl, who
wants to marry him, and now her parents are determined that he shall
marry her, and he is as determined that he will not; and he proposes
to remove secretly to New York. He would have come to see you himself,
but his coming might awaken suspicion on the part of some one
acquainted with the affair, who might see him and know him. So I came
to do the business for him."
"He is in a fix, sure," answered the captain; "if there is any man in
the world I would help, it is the man who is trying to escape from the
girl he don't want to marry. How much will he pay for his passage?"
"He will pay your price if it is reasonable. He is not a pauper,
though he has not much of a money surplus. He will satisfy you as to
"Send him along, then; this sloop will sail on Saturday at two
o'clock, P.M. He better not come aboard until just before we sail, or
somebody may upset his plans, and the girl get him, after all."
"All right; he will be here on the mark, and I shall be with him to
see him off," answered John, as he turned upon his heels to report his
success to Benjamin.
A youth who can fabricate a falsehood so unblushingly as John did the
foregoing is already on the road to ruin. The reader will not be
surprised to learn, before the whole story is told, that he became a
miserable, reckless sort of a man. This lie proved that he was
destitute of moral principle and would do almost any thing to carry
That the captain should have been taken in by such a ruse is
inexplicable. But, no doubt, the thought of receiving good pay for his
passage led him to receive the passenger. It was so much gain to
receive a few dollars from an unexpected source.
"The bargain is made, and your passage to New York is assured,"
exclaimed John to Benjamin, when they met, at the end of two hours.
"Have any trouble to accomplish it? You did not awaken his suspicion,
did you?" replied Benjamin, evidently relieved of considerable anxiety
by the announcement.
"No trouble, of course; I did not mean to have any, if lying would
"Then you had to resort to falsehood to carry your point, did you? How
was that, John?"
"Well, you see, he questioned me pretty closely, and seemed to be
suspicious that you might be a pauper or criminal. He wouldn't want to
carry you if you were a pauper, for he would get no pay for it; and he
would not carry a criminal, for fear of getting into trouble with the
authorities. So I had to originate a little love story, in which you
are represented as fleeing from a girl and her parents, who are
determined that you shall marry her."
"You are more original than I thought you were, John. You might write
a novel out of the affair."
"Yes; and it would be no worse than half the novels that are written,"
rejoined John. "I had a plot to get you to New York, and the novel
writer often has a plot that is not half so important, nor half so
much truth in it."
"How soon will the sloop sail?"
"Next Saturday, at two o'clock in the afternoon, so you will not have
to wait long. You must not go aboard until just before the sloop
sails; for the girl might get wind of it, and be after you. The
captain will be on the lookout for her; he evidently don't want you to
fall into her hands."
Benjamin laughed at this way of putting the matter; and, in the
circumstances, was not disposed to criticise John's method. But he
"How about the price to be paid for the passage?"
"That is left for you and him to adjust," replied John. "I told him
that you was not over-burdened with money, but had enough to pay him
for your passage. How about your books--can you sell them?"
"Yes, and quite as favorably as I had supposed. I see nothing why I
shall not be all ready for the sloop on Saturday. I will send my chest
of clothes down just before I go myself."
"I will be on hand to go to the sloop with you," said John, as they
parted, each with a clear understanding as to the future.
The plan was carried out to the letter, and Benjamin and John were on
their way to the sloop in due time.
"Tell no tales out of school," remarked Benjamin. "I prefer that no
one should know my whereabouts at present."
"They will find out nothing from me; I shall be profoundly ignorant of
your movements," answered John. "Perhaps I shall be the most
astonished person in Boston over your sudden departure; there's no
telling. But I shall want to hear from you, Ben,--can't you write?"
"Sha'n't make any pledges. I shall want to hear from you as much as
you will from me, and a little more, I guess. For I shall want to hear
what is said and done about my unauthorized departure. I suppose that
a _runaway_ can not expect many favorable remarks."
"Perhaps the _Gazette_ will say that the editor of the _Courant_ has
run away," suggested John, in a vein of pleasantry. "There will be
considerable more truth in that than I told the captain. It is rather
of a singular occurrence, however, Ben, that so popular an editor as
you have been should be running away from the editorial chair."
By this time the sloop was boarded, and the captain was almost ready
"My friend," said John to the captain, presenting Benjamin. "You will
find him good company; he is no fool or knave."
"He might be a goner if that girl should be after him before we get
under way," suggested the captain. "However, we'll soon be off."
"Good luck to you, old friend," said John, as he shook hands with
Benjamin. "We shall be nigh each other, though three hundred miles
"Good-bye, John; a thousand thanks for what you have done for me,"
replied Benjamin, with a heavy heart, just beginning to feel that he
was going away from home. "Good-bye."
Thus they parted, and the sloop sailed for New York. Benjamin avoided
conversation with the captain as much as was possible, lest he might
ask questions it would be embarrassing to answer. The captain, too,
refrained from too much freedom with his youthful passenger, lest he
might make it painful for him, now that he was running away from a
The sloop was becalmed off Block Island for several hours, when the
sailors resorted to catching cod for a pastime, and slapping them down
one after another on the deck.
"Cruel! Inhumanity!" cried Benjamin, who entertained the singular idea
that it was murder to take the life of any harmless creature; and for
this reason he would not touch animal food.
"What is cruel?" inquired one of the crew.
"Taking the life of codfish that never did you any harm."
"Pshaw!" exclaimed the captain; "how you goin' to eat 'em before you
"Don't eat them, and then there will be no need of catching them,"
responded Benjamin. "They are in their native element now; let them
stay there, and you keep in yours. They are in as great misery on this
deck as you would be down there in the water."
"What put such a queer notion as that into your head?" said the
captain, who was surprised that a sane man should hold such an
opinion. "Don't _you_ eat fish?"
"No, nor any other kind of meat; I have not touched a particle for
more than two years."
"Because you think it is wicked to kill harmless animals of any kind?"
remarked another sailor, who had been listening in utter astonishment.
"Yes, that is the principal reason, though I do not think that man
needs flesh for a diet."
"You think that God made beasts, birds, and fish to look at, and not
to eat," suggested the captain. "In my opinion, the world would be
overrun with dumb animals in time if none were killed for food."
"And I think the human family would perish for want of food, if flesh
were denied them," added one of the crew.
While this conversation was going on, the cook was frying fresh cod,
and the sailors were enjoying the odor therefrom.
"Don't they smell good?" said one, addressing Benjamin; "I shouldn't
want to risk you with one of those fellows if there was no more than I
"I once ate fish, and had a special liking for them, and they smell
well enough now in the frying-pan," replied Benjamin. "But I have my
own opinions about killing such animals."
"I should think you had," responded one of the sailors, laughing; "no
one else would ever think of such a thing."
Soon the whole crew were eating cod, and in the jolliest manner making
remarks at Benjamin's expense.
"Look here, my friend," said the cook; "when these fish were opened, I
found smaller ones in their stomachs; now, if they can eat one
another, I don't see why we can't eat them; do you?"
"You must be joking, young man," continued the captain; "better send
all such notions adrift and sit down with us to dine on fish; they are
One and another remarked, keeping up a continual fire at Benjamin,
with jokes and arguments and ridicule, until he sat down and went to
devouring a cod with the rest of them. That was the end of his queer
notion about killing fish; it was buried there in the sea; and
Benjamin never again resurrected it, but ate what other people did.
But the episode furnished sport for the sailors all the way from Block
Island to New York, where they arrived in about three days from the
time the sloop left Boston.
Benjamin did not know a person in the city of New York, nor had he a
single letter of recommendation to any one, and the money in his
pocket but a trifle. It was in October, 1723, that he arrived in New
York, a youth of seventeen years, a runaway in a city, without a
solitary acquaintance, and scarcely money enough to pay a week's
board! Perhaps, with all the rest, he carried an upbraiding conscience
under his jacket, more discomforting than to be a stranger in a
At this crisis of Benjamin's life, he appeared to be on the highway to
ruin. There is scarcely one similar case in ten, where the runaway
escapes the vortex of degradation. Benjamin would have been no
exception, but for his early religious training and his love of books.
The case of William Hutton, who was the son of very poor parents, is
very similar to that of Benjamin Franklin. He was bound to his uncle
for a series of years, but he was treated so harshly that he ran away,
at seventeen years of age. The record is, that "on the 12th day of
July, 1741, the ill-treatment he received from his uncle in the shape
of a brutal flogging, with a birch-broom handle of white hazel, which
almost killed him, caused him to run away." A dark prospect was before
him, since "he had only twopence in his pocket, a spacious world
before him, and no plan of operation." Yet he became an author of much
celebrity, and a most exemplary and influential man. He lived to the
age of ninety, his last days being gladdened by the reflection of
having lived a useful life, and the consciousness of sharing the
confidence of his fellow-men.
This description of Hutton would apply almost equally well to
TRIALS OF A RUNAWAY.
On arriving at New York, Benjamin's first thought was of work. His
pocket was too near empty to remain idle long; so he called upon Mr.
William Bradford, an old printer, who removed from Philadelphia to New
York some months before.
"Can I find employment in your printing office?" he inquired.
"I am not in need of extra help, I am sorry to say," answered Mr.
Bradford. "My business is light, and will continue to be so for the
present, I think. Are you a printer?"
"Yes, sir. I have worked at the business over three years."
"You ought to understand it well by this time. I wish I had work for
you, or for any other young man who is enterprising enough to go from
Boston to New York for work."
"Do you think I should be likely to find work at some other printing
office in town?"
"I am sorry to say that I hardly think you can. Very dull times,
indeed, my son. But I think you can get work in Philadelphia. My son
runs a printing house in that city, and one of his men on whom he
relied much recently died. I think he would be glad to employ you."
"How far is it to Philadelphia?"
"About a hundred miles."
"A long distance," was Benjamin's reply, evidently disappointed to
find that he was still a hundred miles from work.
"It is only one-third as far as you have already traveled for work. If
you can find employment by traveling a hundred miles further, in these
dull times, you will be fortunate."
"Well, I suppose that is so," replied Benjamin, musing on his
situation. "What is the conveyance there?"
"You can take a boat to Amboy, and there you will find another boat to
Philadelphia. A pleasant trip, on the whole." And Mr. Bradford added,
for Benjamin's encouragement, "Philadelphia is a better place for a
printer than New York, in some respects."
Benjamin thanked him for his kindness, expressing much pleasure in
making his acquaintance, and bade him good-bye. He took the first boat
to Amboy, sending his chest by sea around to Philadelphia. The more he
reflected upon his situation, in connection with Mr. Bradford's
encouraging words, the more cheerful and hopeful he grew. If he could
get work "by going a hundred miles further" he ought to be well
satisfied, he said to himself. So he cheered up his almost desponding
heart, in Franklin fashion, as he proceeded upon the next hundred
But more trials awaited him, however, somewhat different from those
already experienced. The boat had been under way but a short time
before it was struck by a sudden squall, tearing the rotten sails to
pieces, and driving the craft pell-mell upon Long Island. It was the
first squall of that sort Benjamin had ever experienced. Other squalls
had struck him, and he was fleeing from one at that time, but this
squall of wind and rain was altogether a new experience, and he wilted
under it. The condition was made more tragic by a drunken Dutchman
"Seize him! seize him!" cried the captain; and that was what Benjamin
was waiting to do when the miserable fellow should rise to the
surface. As soon as he came up from the depths into which he had sunk,
Benjamin seized him by the hair of his head and pulled him on board.
"There, you fool," exclaimed Benjamin. "I hope that ducking will sober
you. You came within sight of eternity that time."
"He may thank you for saving his life," remarked one of the boatmen.
"He is too drunk for that," replied Benjamin. "He will never know how
near he came to his own place. Strange that any man will be so foolish
as to drink stuff that will steal away his brains."
"Don't you ever drink it?" asked the captain in reply.
"Not one drop," his young passenger replied with emphasis, as he
rolled over the Dutchman to get the water out of him. "There, are you
all right now?"
The Dutchman mumbled over something, no one could tell what. It was
probably about a book in his jacket; for he took one therefrom, and
signified to Benjamin that he wanted it dried; and then he dropped
into a sound sleep.
"I declare, if it is not my old friend, The Pilgrim's Progress,"
exclaimed Benjamin; "in Dutch, too! A queer companion for a drunken
man to have, though a good one."
"Knows more about the bottle than he does about that, I bet," said the
captain. "I don't suppose that it makes much difference to him whether
he is under the water or on top."
"Not just now," replied Benjamin; "but what chance is there for
landing on such a rocky shore?"
"Not much; we'll drop anchor, and swing out the cable towards the
shore," said the captain.
"I see men on the shore, and there are boats there; perhaps they can
come to our rescue, though the wind is blowing a little too hard for
The captain hallooed to them, and they returned an answer, but the
wind howled so that they could not be understood.
"A boat! A boat!" shouted the captain. Others of the crew joined in
the call for aid, and made various signs indicating their need of
assistance. But neither party could understand the other.
"What now?" inquired Benjamin, when he saw the men on shore turning
their steps homeward. "A pretty dark night before us."
"Yes, dark and perilous, though I have seen a worse one," answered the
captain. "When we find ourselves in such a predicament, there is only
one thing to be done."
"What is that?" asked Benjamin, who was quite nervous and anxious.
"Do nothing but wait patiently for the wind to abate." The captain was
cool and self-reliant when he spoke.
"Then let us turn in with the Dutchman," said one of the boatmen. "I
don't want he should have all the sleep there is. He is not in
condition to appreciate it as I am."
"As you please," said the captain; "might as well improve the time by
getting a little rest. We shall be all right in the morning."
So all crowded into the hatches, including Benjamin. But the spray
broke over the head of the boat so much that the water leaked through
"A wet berth for you, friend," said one of the boatmen to Benjamin.
"You are not accustomed to sleeping in such wet blankets. You may get
as wet as the Dutchman before morning."
"There is only one thing to do in these circumstances," said Benjamin
in reply, "take things as they come, and make the best of it."
"If you can," added the boatman in a suggestive way. "If _you_ can, I
oughter. I've been in this business longer than you have lived."
The crew slept soundly; but Benjamin found no rest in such an unusual
plight. Sleep was out of the question, and he had all the more time to
_think_, and his active mind improved the opportunity, so that Boston,
home, the printing office, and his parents were dwelt upon until he
began to think he was _paying too dear for the whistle_ again. It is
not strange that runaways feel thus, sooner or later, since few of
them ever realize their anticipations.
The cold, dreary night wore away slowly, and the wind continued to
howl, and the breakers to dash and rear, until after the dawn of
morning. Benjamin was never more rejoiced to see daylight than he was
after that dismal and perilous night. It was the more pleasant to him,
because the wind began to abate, and there was a fairer prospect of
reaching their destination. As soon as the tumult of the winds and
waves had subsided, they weighed anchor, and steered for Amboy, where
they arrived just before night, "having been thirty hours on the water
without victuals, or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum."
In the evening Benjamin found himself feverish, having taken a severe
cold by the exposure of the previous night. With a hot head and a
heavy heart he retired to rest, first, however, drinking largely of
cold water, because he had somewhere read that cold water was good for
fever. This was one of the advantages he derived from his early habit
of reading. But for his taste for reading, which led him to spend his
leisure moments in poring over books, he might never have known this
important fact, that, perhaps, saved him a fit of sickness. Availing
himself of this knowledge, he drank freely of water before he retired,
and the result was a thorough sweating; and he arose in the morning
fully restored, so as to continue his journey.
A few years ago, a young man was traveling in the state of Maine,
soliciting subscribers for a newspaper. On passing a certain farm, he
observed some bricks of a peculiar color, and he traced them to their
clay-bed, and satisfied himself that the material could be applied to
a more valuable purpose than that of making bricks. He at once
purchased the farm for fifteen hundred dollars, and, on his return to
Boston, sold one-half of it for four thousand dollars. The secret of
his success lay in a bit of knowledge he acquired at school. He had
given some attention to geology and chemistry, and the little
knowledge he had gained therefrom enabled him to discover the nature
of the clay on the said farm. Thus even a little knowledge that may be
gleaned from a book in a simple leisure half-hour, will sometimes
prove the way to a valuable treasure; much more valuable than the farm
which the young man purchased. This pecuniary benefit is, after all,
the least important advantage derived from reading. The discipline of
the mind and heart, and the refined and elevated pleasure which it
secures, are far more desirable than any pecuniary advantage gained. A
little reading, also, as we have seen, sometimes gives an impulse to
the mind in the direction of learning and renown. It was the reading
of Echard's Roman History, which Gibbon met with while on a visit to
Miltshire, that opened before him the historic path to distinction.
Sir Walter Scott warned the young against under valuing the knowledge
to be acquired at odd moments by reading and study. He wrote:
"If it should ever fall to the lot of youth to peruse these pages, let
such readers remember that it is with the deepest regret that I
recollect, in my manhood, the opportunities of learning which I
neglected in my youth; that through every part of my literary career I
have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance; and I would this
moment give half the reputation I have had the good fortune to
acquire, if by so doing I could rest the remaining part upon a sound
foundation of learning and science."
But we have lost sight of Benjamin. We left him at the "tavern" in
Amboy, after having spent the night in a cold-water sweat, about ready
to start on his journey. Burlington was fifty miles from Amboy, and
there was no public conveyance, so that he was obliged to go on foot,
expecting to find a boat there bound for Philadelphia.
"Rather a tough day for walking," remarked the landlord, as Benjamin
was leaving his house. "Better stay unless your business is driving."
"Rain or shine, I must push on," responded Benjamin cheerfully. "I
want to be in Philadelphia as soon as possible. Can't melt, as I am
neither sugar nor salt."
"Well, that is a very encouraging view to take of the situation, and
it is a sensible one, too," said the landlord. "There's nothing like
taking things as they come."
"I have lived long enough to find that out, young as I am," replied
Benjamin; "and I expect to find constant use of that spirit in future.
"Good luck to you, wherever you go," added the landlord in a friendly
Benjamin was wet through before he had traveled a mile, and he began
to wish that he had never left Boston; still he hastened on until he
reached a "poor inn" about noon. His own description of that day is as
"It rained very hard all the day; I was thoroughly soaked, and by noon
a good deal tired; so I stopped at a poor inn, where I staid all
night, _beginning now to wish I had never left home_. I made so
miserable a figure, too, that I found, by the questions asked me, I
was suspected to be some runaway indentured servant, and in danger of
being taken up on that suspicion."
"Where are you from, young man?"
"From Boston, sir."
"Ah! you are a long way from home for such a youngster. What is your
"My name is Benjamin Franklin, and I am going to Philadelphia after
"No work in Boston, I s'pose, hey? How long since you left?"
"About a week. I did not expect to come further this way than New
York, but I could find no work there."
"No work in New York, hey? What sort of work do you do, that you find
it so scarce?"
"I am a printer by trade, and I hope to get into a printing office in
"Wall, you are a pretty young one to take such a trip; I should hardly
be willing my son should go so far from home, printer or no printer."
"I can afford to make such a trip, and even a longer one, if I can
find steady work," suggested Benjamin.
"Your father and mother living?"
"How did they feel about your going so far from home?"
"A father who loves to work as well as my father does always wants his
sons to have enough to do," Benjamin replied, shrewdly evading the
close question. "Nothing my father hates so much as idleness."
"We all ought to hate it; but many men do not. In these times, can't
keep above water without work." The landlord's last words indicated
that his suspicions were somewhat allayed.
Benjamin managed to answer all the questions of the innkeeper without
increasing his suspicions. He ate and slept there, and on the
following morning proceeded on his journey, and by night was within
eight or ten miles of Burlington. Here he stopped at an inn kept by
one Doctor Brown, "an ambulating quack-doctor" and a very social man.
"How much further you going?" he inquired of Benjamin.
"I am going to Philadelphia."
"Where are you from?"
"Ah! I would like to see Boston; I never did. I have been in South
America, England, and some other countries, but I was never in
"It is a good town, and has many educated, intelligent citizens; it is
a thriving place," said Benjamin. "I should like to see as much of the
world as you have."
"I enjoyed it, though my knocking about subjected me to many
hardships," replied the doctor. "You would like to see London, and
Paris, and Rome; I have seen them all. They are marvellous cities."
"I suppose so. My father came from England to Boston less than forty
years ago," continued Benjamin. "He enjoys this country more than he
did his own."
Benjamin had a good time at Doctor Brown's. The latter soon discovered
that his youthful guest was very intelligent, so he entered into an
account of his travels abroad somewhat in detail to interest him.
Benjamin enjoyed the interview very much, and forgot, for the time
being, that he was a runaway encountering many hardships. He was sorry
to leave him on the next day.
"I have enjoyed every minute of my stay here," he said, "and I shall
not forget it soon. Perhaps we shall meet again sometime."
"I hope we shall. I am glad to make your acquaintance, and I wish you
great success. I hope you will become the most successful printer in
They parted the best of friends, and Benjamin pushed on to Burlington,
where he expected to find a boat. In the suburbs of the town he bought
some gingerbread of an old woman who kept a shop, and walked on,
eating it as he went. To his great disappointment, on reaching the
wharf, he found the boat had gone, and there would not be another
until Tuesday. It was Saturday, and his money would not hold out if he
should get boarded at a hotel till then. What should he do? He was in
great trouble about it for a short time, but finally concluded that he
would return to the old lady of whom he bought the gingerbread, as he
liked her appearance very well, and ask her advice. So back he went.
"Ah! back again?" she said, as he entered her shop. "Want more
"No. I was going to take the boat to Philadelphia, but it has gone,
and there is not another to go until Tuesday."
"Lor', me!" exclaimed the kind-hearted woman; "if that ain't too bad!
What kin ye du?"
"That is what I want to ask you. Is there any other conveyance to
"Lor', no; and all ye has to du is to make the best on 't."
"And what is that? That is just what I want to know. How can I make
the best on 't?"
"What ye goin' to Philadelphy for?" she replied, instead of answering
"I am going after work. I am a printer, and want to find work in a
"A printer, lor'! Dear me, yer fortin is made to set up business in
this 'ere town. There's nothin' of the like here."
"I have nothing to set up the business with," said Benjamin. "I would
as lief work here as in Philadelphia, if the way was open."
The woman did not know what was necessary in establishing a printing
house. That types and a press were indispensable articles in such
business she did not dream. She thought, doubtless, that he carried
all necessary fixtures with him in his pockets.
"Lor', then, I'll lodge ye till Tuesday for ----," naming the sum.
"I will stay with you, then, and make the best of it," he replied.
He found himself in very good quarters, and his hostess proved herself
to be very kind and hospitable. He took dinner with her, and remained
about the shop until towards night, when he walked forth to view the
place. In his walk he came around to the river, and, as he approached
it, he discovered a boat with several people in it, and he hailed
"Can you take me in? I was too late for the boat to-day."
"Just as well as not," and the boat was turned at once to receive the
There was no wind, so that they had to depend upon their oars for
progress. Benjamin now had an opportunity to show his skill in rowing
which he acquired in his boyhood, in Boston. He was so elated with
proceeding on his journey to Philadelphia that he thought neither of
the fatigue of rowing nor of the wonder of the old lady in the shop at
the unexpected disappearance of her boarder. He did not mean to treat
her disrespectfully, for he considered her a very clever woman; but
the boat could not wait for him to return and pay the old lady his
compliments. Whether she ever learned what became of him, or that he
grew up to be Doctor Franklin, the philosopher and statesman, we have
no means of knowing. Doubtless she concluded that she had not
"entertained an angel unawares," but rather had aided an undeserving
fellow in pursuing a vicious course, which was not true.
The boat moved on. Benjamin rowed with strong resolution, taking his
turn with others, and impressing them by his tact and skill, until
midnight, when one of the company said:
"We must have passed the city. It can't be that we have been so long
getting to it."
"That is impossible," answered one of the men; "we must have seen it
if we had passed it."
"Well, I shall row no more," said the first speaker. "I know that
Philadelphia is not so far off as this."
"Then, let us put for the shore," said a third, "and find out where we
are, if possible."
All agreed to the last proposition, and at once rowed towards the
shore, entering a small creek, where they landed near an old fence,
the rails of which furnished them fuel for a fire. They were very
chilly, it being a frosty night of October, and they found the fire
very grateful. They remained there till daylight, when one of the
company knew that the place was "Cooper's Creek," a few miles above
Philadelphia. Immediately they made preparations to continue their
journey, which had not been altogether unpleasant, and they were soon
in full view of the city, where they arrived between eight and nine
o'clock on Sunday morning. They landed at Market-street Wharf. Taking
out his money, which consisted of one unbroken dollar and a shilling
in copper coin, he offered the latter to the boatman for his passage.
"Not a cent, my good fellow! You worked your passage, and did it well,
too. You row as if you were an old hand at it. Put your money back in
"But you _must_ take it," insisted Benjamin. "You are quite welcome to
all the rowing I have done. I am glad enough to get here by rowing and
paying my passage, too. But for your coming along to take me in, I
should have been obliged to stay in Burlington until next Tuesday,"
and he fairly forced the money upon the boatman.
Bidding them good morning, he walked up Market Street.
THE WALKING COMEDY.
Benjamin was very hungry, and he was considering how he could appease
his hunger, when he met a boy who was eating a piece of bread.
"That is what I want," he said to the boy; "where did you get that?"
"Over there, at the bake-shop," the boy replied, pointing to it.
"Thank you," and Benjamin hurried on.
He had eaten nothing since he dined with the shop-woman in Burlington,
on the day before. Besides, bread was a staple article with him. He
had made many a meal of plain bread in his brother's printing office
in Boston. Although he knew well which side his bread was buttered,
his appetite for unbuttered bread never failed him. Entering the
bake-shop, he inquired:
"Have you biscuit?" He was thinking of what he had in Boston.
"We make nothing of the kind."
"Give me a three-penny loaf, then."
"We have none."
Benjamin began to think he should have to go hungry still, for,
evidently, he did not know the names used to designate the different
sorts of bread in Philadelphia. But, soon recovering himself, he said:
"Then give me three-penny worth of any kind." To his surprise, the
baker passed three great puffy rolls to him, enough for three men to
eat at one meal. At first, he was puzzled to know what to do with
them, whether to take all three or not.
"What! All that?" he said, scarcely knowing what he did say.
"Yes, there's three-penny worth; that is what you said, was it not?"
"It was," and Benjamin paid the money and took the loaves, trying to
conceal his surprise, without exposing his ignorance of methods in the
Quaker City. He was a boy of remarkable tact, as we have seen, so that
he was never put to his wits long without finding a way out. It was so
in this case. He put a roll under each arm, and taking the third one
in his hand, he proceeded up the street, eating as he went.
Recollect that it was Sunday morning, and people were already swarming
in the streets, arrayed in their best clothes. Benjamin was clad in
his poorest clothes, and they were very shabby. His best suit was in
his chest, and that was sent from New York by water. He was a sight to
behold as he trudged up Market Street with his three loaves of bread,
and his large pockets stuffed with shirts and stockings. He preferred
pockets to the usual "bandanna bundle"; they were more convenient for
storing away his wardrobe, but contributed largely to his comical
appearance. He was a walking comedy. People gazed at him inquiringly
and smiled. No doubt, many of them wondered where he came from and
where he was going. He was seedy enough, but no one saw the seed of a
philosopher or statesman about him. There was no promise in that
direction. He was an embryo "Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of
France"; but his appearance was that of a shack, or modern tramp, to
whom Sunday is like all other days, and whose self-respect is at a
On he went, however, regardless of opinions concerning the figure he
cut, stowing away in his stomach the baker's loaf in his hand. He
passed by the residence of one Mr. Read, whose daughter, in her teens,
Miss Deborah Read, was standing at the door. She gazed in wonder at
the singular specimen of humanity passing before her; thought he was
the most awkward and comical creature in the form of a man she had
ever seen; and turned away with a laugh to tell her people in the
house of the queer spectacle. She little thought that she was taking a
bird's eye view of her future husband, as the young man with the rolls
under his arms turned out to be. But just then he cared more for bread
than he did for her; some years thereafter, the case was reversed, and
he cared more for her than he did for bread.
He turned down Chestnut Street, and walked on until he came round to
the wharf where he landed. Being thirsty, he went to the boat for
water, where he found the woman and child, who came down the river
with them on the previous night, waiting to go further.
"Are you hungry?" he said to the little one, who looked wistfully at
"We are both very hungry," replied the mother quickly for herself and
"Well, I have satisfied my hunger with one loaf, and you may have the
other two if you want them"; and Benjamin passed the two rolls under
his arms to her. "It appears that, in Philadelphia, three-penny worth
of bread is three times as much as a man can eat. If other things can
be had in the same proportion, the last dollar I have left will go a
"I thank you a thousand times; you are very kind indeed," responded
the woman, with a heart overflowing with gratitude, which was as good
pay for the bread as Benjamin wanted. "May you never want for bread."
"No one would want for bread if they who have it will divide with
those who have none, as they should."
In the last reply was incorporated a leading virtue of Benjamin's
character--a trait that manifested itself, as we shall see, all
through his life. His generosity was equal to his wisdom. An American
statesman said of him, in a eulogy delivered in Boston:
"No form of personal suffering or social evil escaped his attention,
or appealed in vain for such relief or remedy as his prudence could
suggest, or his purse supply. From that day of his early youth, when,
a wanderer from his home and friends in a strange place, he was seen
sharing the rolls with a poor woman and child, to the last act of his
public life, when he signed that well-known memorial to Congress, a
spirit of earnest and practical benevolence runs like a golden thread
along his whole career."
"I must be after finding a boarding place," said Benjamin to the owner
of the boat, as he was about leaving. "I do not know where to go any
more than the man in the moon. Are you acquainted here?"
"Scarcely at all; could not be of any service to you any way on that
line," the owner answered. "Goin' to stop some time in Philadelphy?"
"I am going to live here if I can find work, as I expect to, and
become a citizen of this town."
"Wall, you'll make a good one, I know. May you never have reason to
repent of your choice. Goodbye."
"Good-bye"; and Benjamin walked up the street again. The people were
on their way to meeting, so that he was reminded of divine worship,
which he had partially forsaken in Boston. Being very tired, in
consequence of a hard time on the boat and a wakeful night, he
concluded to follow the people to church. They entered a large
old-fashioned meeting-house, and he followed them and took a seat near
the door. His appearance attracted much attention, as his dress was
not exactly that of a Quaker, and otherwise he was not quite of the
Quaker type; and it was a Quaker church in which he was. But he wasted
no thoughts upon his apparel, and did not stop to think or care
whether he was arrayed in shoddy or fine linen.
Whether he did not know that he was in a Quaker congregation, or
knowing that fact, was ignorant of the Quaker worship, does not
appear; but he waited for something to be said. While waiting for
this, he dropped into a sound sleep, and slept through the entire
service, and would have slept on, and been fastened into the
meeting-house, had not the sexton discovered him.
"Hulloo, stranger! Meeting's over; going to shut up the house,"
shouted the sexton, shaking the sleeper thoroughly.
"I was very tired," responded Benjamin, trying to get his eyes open.
"I was on the boat last night and got no sleep."
"Where did you come from?"
"Boston; I came here for work."
"Well, Philadelphy is a great place for work; what sort of work do you
"I am a printer by trade, and hope to find work in a printing office."
"And I hope you will. Sorry to disturb your nap, but I have to lock up
Benjamin thanked the sexton for waking him instead of locking him in,
and went out into the street. He had not proceeded far before he met a
Quaker whose face indicated a man of amiable and generous heart, and
Benjamin ventured to speak to him.
"I am a stranger in this town; arrived here this morning; can you tell
me where I can get a night's lodging?"
"Certainly I can; I suppose thee wants a respectable place." The
gentleman spoke so kindly as to draw Benjamin to him at once.
"Yes, sir; but not an expensive one; my purse will not permit of any
"Thee going to remain here some time?"
"Permanently, if I can get work; I am a printer by trade."
"I wish thee success," added the Quaker. "But here we are close by the
'Three Mariners'; but it is not exactly a reputable house, and thee
wants a better one."
"Yes; I want one that has a good reputation if there is such a one,"
"Well, if thee will follow me, I will show thee a better one; it is
not far away."