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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

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occasion being witnesses how I was treated. He came up immediately
into the printing-house, continu'd the quarrel, high words pass'd
on both sides, he gave me the quarter's warning we had stipulated,
expressing a wish that he had not been oblig'd to so long a warning.
I told him his wish was unnecessary, for I would leave him that instant;
and so, taking my hat, walk'd out of doors, desiring Meredith,
whom I saw below, to take care of some things I left, and bring
them to my lodgings.

Meredith came accordingly in the evening, when we talked my affair over.
He had conceiv'd a great regard for me, and was very unwilling
that I should leave the house while he remain'd in it. He dissuaded
me from returning to my native country, which I began to think of;
he reminded me that Keimer was in debt for all he possess'd;
that his creditors began to be uneasy; that he kept his shop miserably,
sold often without profit for ready money, and often trusted without
keeping accounts; that he must therefore fall, which would make
a vacancy I might profit of. I objected my want of money. He then
let me know that his father had a high opinion of me, and, from some
discourse that had pass'd between them, he was sure would advance
money to set us up, if I would enter into partnership with him.
"My time," says he, "will be out with Keimer in the spring;
by that time we may have our press and types in from London.
I am sensible I am no workman; if you like it, your skill in the
business shall be set against the stock I furnish, and we will share
the profits equally."

The proposal was agreeable, and I consented; his father was in town
and approv'd of it; the more as he saw I had great influence with
his son, had prevail'd on him to abstain long from dram-drinking,
and he hop'd might break him off that wretched habit entirely,
when we came to be so closely connected. I gave an inventory to
the father, who carry'd it to a merchant; the things were sent for,
the secret was to be kept till they should arrive, and in the mean
time I was to get work, if I could, at the other printing-house. But I
found no vacancy there, and so remain'd idle a few days, when Keimer,
on a prospect of being employ'd to print some paper money in New Jersey,
which would require cuts and various types that I only could supply,
and apprehending Bradford might engage me and get the jobb from him,
sent me a very civil message, that old friends should not part for a
few words, the effect of sudden passion, and wishing me to return.
Meredith persuaded me to comply, as it would give more opportunity
for his improvement under my daily instructions; so I return'd,
and we went on more smoothly than for some time before. The New
jersey jobb was obtain'd, I contriv'd a copperplate press for it,
the first that had been seen in the country; I cut several ornaments
and checks for the bills. We went together to Burlington, where I
executed the whole to satisfaction; and he received so large a sum
for the work as to be enabled thereby to keep his head much longer
above water.

At Burlington I made an acquaintance with many principal people
of the province. Several of them had been appointed by the Assembly
a committee to attend the press, and take care that no more bills
were printed than the law directed. They were therefore, by turns,
constantly with us, and generally he who attended, brought with him
a friend or two for company. My mind having been much more improv'd
by reading than Keimer's, I suppose it was for that reason my
conversation seem'd to be more valu'd. They had me to their houses,
introduced me to their friends, and show'd me much civility;
while he, tho' the master, was a little neglected. In truth,
he was an odd fish; ignorant of common life, fond of rudely opposing
receiv'd opinions, slovenly to extream dirtiness, enthusiastic in
some points of religion, and a little knavish withal.

We continu'd there near three months; and by that time I could
reckon among my acquired friends, Judge Allen, Samuel Bustill,
the secretary of the Province, Isaac Pearson, Joseph Cooper,
and several of the Smiths, members of Assembly, and Isaac Decow,
the surveyor-general. The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man,
who told me that he began for himself, when young, by wheeling
clay for the brick-makers, learned to write after he was of age,
carri'd the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he
had now by his industry, acquir'd a good estate; and says he,
"I foresee that you will soon work this man out of business,
and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia." He had not then
the least intimation of my intention to set up there or anywhere.
These friends were afterwards of great use to me, as I occasionally
was to some of them. They all continued their regard for me as long as
they lived.

Before I enter upon my public appearance in business, it may be well
to let you know the then state of my mind with regard to my principles
and morals, that you may see how far those influenc'd the future events
of my life. My parents had early given me religious impressions,
and brought me through my childhood piously in the Dissenting way.
But I was scarce fifteen, when, after doubting by turns of several
points, as I found them disputed in the different books I read,
I began to doubt of Revelation itself. Some books against Deism
fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of sermons
preached at Boyle's Lectures. It happened that they wrought
an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them;
for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted,
appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short,
I soon became a thorough Deist. My arguments perverted some others,
particularly Collins and Ralph; but, each of them having afterwards
wrong'd me greatly without the least compunction, and recollecting
Keith's conduct towards me (who was another freethinker), and my own
towards Vernon and Miss Read, which at times gave me great trouble,
I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho' it might be true,
was not very useful. My London pamphlet, which had for its motto
these lines of Dryden:

"Whatever is, is right. Though purblind man
Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link:
His eyes not carrying to the equal beam,
That poises all above;"

and from the attributes of God, his infinite wisdom, goodness and power,
concluded that nothing could possibly be wrong in the world, and that
vice and virtue were empty distinctions, no such things existing,
appear'd now not so clever a performance as I once thought it;
and I doubted whether some error had not insinuated itself unperceiv'd
into my argument, so as to infect all that follow'd, as is common
in metaphysical reasonings.

I grew convinc'd that truth, sincerity and integrity in dealings
between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity
of life; and I form'd written resolutions, which still remain
in my journal book, to practice them ever while I lived.
Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertain'd
an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they
were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably
these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us,
or commanded because they were beneficial to us, in their own natures,
all the circumstances of things considered. And this persuasion,
with the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental
favorable circumstances and situations, or all together, preserved me,
thro' this dangerous time of youth, and the hazardous situations I
was sometimes in among strangers, remote from the eye and advice
of my father, without any willful gross immorality or injustice,
that might have been expected from my want of religion. I say willful,
because the instances I have mentioned had something of necessity
in them, from my youth, inexperience, and the knavery of others.
I had therefore a tolerable character to begin the world with;
I valued it properly, and determin'd to preserve it.

We had not been long return'd to Philadelphia before the new types
arriv'd from London. We settled with Keimer, and left him by his consent
before he heard of it. We found a house to hire near the market,
and took it. To lessen the rent, which was then but twenty-four
pounds a year, tho' I have since known it to let for seventy,
we took in Thomas Godfrey, a glazier, and his family, who were to
pay a considerable part of it to us, and we to board with them.
We had scarce opened our letters and put our press in order,
before George House, an acquaintance of mine, brought a countryman
to us, whom he had met in the street inquiring for a printer.
All our cash was now expended in the variety of particulars we
had been obliged to procure, and this countryman's five shillings,
being our first-fruits, and coming so seasonably, gave me more pleasure
than any crown I have since earned; and the gratitude I felt toward
House has made me often more ready than perhaps I should otherwise
have been to assist young beginners.

There are croakers in every country, always boding its ruin.
Such a one then lived in Philadelphia; a person of note, an elderly man,
with a wise look and a very grave manner of speaking; his name
was Samuel Mickle. This gentleman, a stranger to me, stopt one day
at my door, and asked me if I was the young man who had lately
opened a new printing-house. Being answered in the affirmative,
he said he was sorry for me, because it was an expensive undertaking,
and the expense would be lost; for Philadelphia was a sinking place,
the people already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances
to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents,
being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact,
among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such
a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist,
that he left me half melancholy. Had I known him before I
engaged in this business, probably I never should have done it.
This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim
in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there,
because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure
of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought
it for when he first began his croaking.

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year,
I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual
improvement, which we called the JUNTO; we met on Friday evenings.
The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn,
should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics,
or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company; and once
in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing,
on any subject he pleased. Our debates were to be under the direction
of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry
after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory;
and, to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions,
or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband,
and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.

The first members were Joseph Breintnal, a copyer of deeds for
the scriveners, a good-natur'd, friendly, middle-ag'd man, a great
lover of poetry, reading all he could meet with, and writing some
that was tolerable; very ingenious in many little Nicknackeries,
and of sensible conversation.

Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, great in his way,
and afterward inventor of what is now called Hadley's Quadrant.
But he knew little out of his way, and was not a pleasing companion;
as, like most great mathematicians I have met with, he expected
universal precision in everything said, or was for ever denying or
distinguishing upon trifles, to the disturbance of all conversation.
He soon left us.

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor, afterwards surveyor-general,
who lov'd books, and sometimes made a few verses.

William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, had acquir'd
a considerable share of mathematics, which he first studied
with a view to astrology, that he afterwards laught at it.
He also became surveyor-general.

William Maugridge, a joiner, a most exquisite mechanic, and a solid,
sensible man.

Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characteriz'd before.

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively,
and witty; a lover of punning and of his friends.

And William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, about my age, who had
the coolest, dearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals
of almost any man I ever met with. He became afterwards a merchant
of great note, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship
continued without interruption to his death, upward of forty years;
and the club continued almost as long, and was the best school
of philosophy, morality, and politics that then existed in the province;
for our queries, which were read the week preceding their discussion,
put us upon reading with attention upon the several subjects,
that we might speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired
better habits of conversation, every thing being studied in our
rules which might prevent our disgusting each other. From hence
the long continuance of the club, which I shall have frequent
occasion to speak further of hereafter.

But my giving this account of it here is to show something of the interest
I had, every one of these exerting themselves in recommending business
to us. Breintnal particularly procur'd us from the Quakers the printing
forty sheets of their history, the rest being to be done by Keimer;
and upon this we work'd exceedingly hard, for the price was low.
It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long primer notes.
I compos'd of it a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off at press;
it was often eleven at night, and sometimes later, before I had
finished my distribution for the next day's work, for the little
jobbs sent in by our other friends now and then put us back.
But so determin'd I was to continue doing a sheet a day of the folio,
that one night, when, having impos'd my forms, I thought my day's
work over, one of them by accident was broken, and two pages
reduced to pi, I immediately distributed and compos'd it over again
before I went to bed; and this industry, visible to our neighbors,
began to give us character and credit; particularly, I was told,
that mention being made of the new printing-office at the merchants'
Every-night club, the general opinion was that it must fail,
there being already two printers in the place, Keimer and Bradford;
but Dr. Baird (whom you and I saw many years after at his native place,
St. Andrew's in Scotland) gave a contrary opinion: "For the industry
of that Franklin," says he, "is superior to any thing I ever saw
of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club,
and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed."
This struck the rest, and we soon after had offers from one of them
to supply us with stationery; but as yet we did not chuse to engage in
shop business.

I mention this industry the more particularly and the more freely,
tho' it seems to be talking in my own praise, that those of
my posterity, who shall read it, may know the use of that virtue,
when they see its effects in my favour throughout this relation.

George Webb, who had found a female friend that lent him wherewith
to purchase his time of Keimer, now came to offer himself as a
journeyman to us. We could not then employ him; but I foolishly
let him know as a secret that I soon intended to begin a newspaper,
and might then have work for him. My hopes of success, as I told him,
were founded on this, that the then only newspaper, printed by Bradford,
was a paltry thing, wretchedly manag'd, no way entertaining, and yet
was profitable to him; I therefore thought a good paper would scarcely
fail of good encouragement. I requested Webb not to mention it;
but he told it to Keimer, who immediately, to be beforehand with me,
published proposals for printing one himself, on which Webb
was to be employ'd. I resented this; and, to counteract them,
as I could not yet begin our paper, I wrote several pieces of
entertainment for Bradford's paper, under the title of the BUSY BODY,
which Breintnal continu'd some months. By this means the attention
of the publick was fixed on that paper, and Keimer's proposals,
which we burlesqu'd and ridicul'd, were disregarded. He began
his paper, however, and, after carrying it on three quarters of
a year, with at most only ninety subscribers, he offered it to me
for a trifle; and I, having been ready some time to go on with it,
took it in hand directly; and it prov'd in a few years extremely
profitable to me.

I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number,
though our partnership still continu'd; the reason may be that,
in fact, the whole management of the business lay upon me.
Meredith was no compositor, a poor pressman, and seldom sober.
My friends lamented my connection with him, but I was to make the best
of it.

Our first papers made a quite different appearance from any before
in the province; a better type, and better printed; but some spirited
remarks of my writing, on the dispute then going on between Governor
Burnet and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal people,
occasioned the paper and the manager of it to be much talk'd of,
and in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers.

Their example was follow'd by many, and our number went on
growing continually. This was one of the first good effects of my
having learnt a little to scribble; another was, that the leading men,
seeing a newspaper now in the hands of one who could also handle
a pen, thought it convenient to oblige and encourage me.
Bradford still printed the votes, and laws, and other publick business.
He had printed an address of the House to the governor, in a coarse,
blundering manner, we reprinted it elegantly and correctly,
and sent one to every member. They were sensible of the difference:
it strengthened the hands of our friends in the House, and they
voted us their printers for the year ensuing.

Among my friends in the House I must not forget Mr. Hamilton,
before mentioned, who was then returned from England, and had a seat
in it. He interested himself for me strongly in that instance,
as he did in many others afterward, continuing his patronage till
his death.<6>

<6> I got his son once L500.--[Marg. note.]

Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt I ow'd him,
but did not press me. I wrote him an ingenuous letter of acknowledgment,
crav'd his forbearance a little longer, which he allow'd me,
and as soon as I was able, I paid the principal with interest,
and many thanks; so that erratum was in some degree corrected.

But now another difficulty came upon me which I had never the least
reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's father, who was to have paid for
our printing-house, according to the expectations given me, was able
to advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had been paid;
and a hundred more was due to the merchant, who grew impatient,
and su'd us all. We gave bail, but saw that, if the money could
not be rais'd in time, the suit must soon come to a judgment
and execution, and our hopeful prospects must, with us, be ruined,
as the press and letters must be sold for payment, perhaps at
half price.

In this distress two true friends, whose kindness I have never forgotten,
nor ever shall forget while I can remember any thing, came to
me separately, unknown to each other, and, without any application
from me, offering each of them to advance me all the money that should
be necessary to enable me to take the whole business upon myself,
if that should be practicable; but they did not like my continuing
the partnership with Meredith, who, as they said, was often seen
drunk in the streets, and playing at low games in alehouses, much to
our discredit. These two friends were William Coleman and Robert Grace.
I told them I could not propose a separation while any prospect
remain'd of the Merediths' fulfilling their part of our agreement,
because I thought myself under great obligations to them for what they
had done, and would do if they could; but, if they finally fail'd
in their performance, and our partnership must be dissolv'd, I should
then think myself at liberty to accept the assistance of my friends.

Thus the matter rested for some time, when I said to my partner,
"Perhaps your father is dissatisfied at the part you have undertaken
in this affair of ours, and is unwilling to advance for you and
me what he would for you alone. If that is the case, tell me,
and I will resign the whole to you, and go about my business."
"No," said he, "my father has really been disappointed, and is
really unable; and I am unwilling to distress him farther.
I see this is a business I am not fit for. I was bred a farmer,
and it was a folly in me to come to town, and put myself, at thirty
years of age, an apprentice to learn a new trade. Many of our Welsh
people are going to settle in North Carolina, where land is cheap.
I am inclin'd to go with them, and follow my old employment.
You may find friends to assist you. If you will take the debts
of the company upon you; return to my father the hundred pound he
has advanced; pay my little personal debts, and give me thirty
pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish the partnership,
and leave the whole in your hands." I agreed to this proposal:
it was drawn up in writing, sign'd, and seal'd immediately.
I gave him what he demanded, and he went soon after to Carolina,
from whence he sent me next year two long letters, containing the
best account that had been given of that country, the climate,
the soil, husbandry, etc., for in those matters he was very judicious.
I printed them in the papers, and they gave great satisfaction to
the publick.

As soon as he was gone, I recurr'd to my two friends; and because I
would not give an unkind preference to either, I took half of
what each had offered and I wanted of one, and half of the other;
paid off the company's debts, and went on with the business
in my own name, advertising that the partnership was dissolved.
I think this was in or about the year 1729.

About this time there was a cry among the people for more paper money,
only fifteen thousand pounds being extant in the province, and that soon
to be sunk. The wealthy inhabitants oppos'd any addition, being against
all paper currency, from an apprehension that it would depreciate,
as it had done in New England, to the prejudice of all creditors.
We had discuss'd this point in our Junto, where I was on the side
of an addition, being persuaded that the first small sum struck in 1723
had done much good by increasing the trade, employment, and number
of inhabitants in the province, since I now saw all the old houses
inhabited, and many new ones building; whereas I remembered well,
that when I first walk'd about the streets of Philadelphia,
eating my roll, I saw most of the houses in Walnut-street, between
Second and Front streets, with bills on their doors, "To be let";
and many likewise in Chestnut-street and other streets, which made me then
think the inhabitants of the city were deserting it one after another.

Our debates possess'd me so fully of the subject, that I wrote
and printed an anonymous pamphlet on it, entitled "The Nature and
Necessity of a Paper Currency." It was well receiv'd by the common
people in general; but the rich men dislik'd it, for it increas'd
and strengthen'd the clamor for more money, and they happening to have
no writers among them that were able to answer it, their opposition
slacken'd, and the point was carried by a majority in the House.
My friends there, who conceiv'd I had been of some service,
thought fit to reward me by employing me in printing the money;
a very profitable jobb and a great help to me. This was another
advantage gain'd by my being able to write.

The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident as
never afterwards to be much disputed; so that it grew soon to fifty-five
thousand pounds, and in 1739 to eighty thousand pounds, since which it
arose during war to upwards of three hundred and fifty thousand pounds,
trade, building, and inhabitants all the while increasing, till
I now think there are limits beyond which the quantity may be hurtful.

I soon after obtain'd, thro' my friend Hamilton, the printing of the
Newcastle paper money, another profitable jobb as I then thought it;
small things appearing great to those in small circumstances;
and these, to me, were really great advantages, as they were
great encouragements. He procured for me, also, the printing
of the laws and votes of that government, which continu'd
in my hands as long as I follow'd the business.

I now open'd a little stationer's shop. I had in it blanks of
all sorts, the correctest that ever appear'd among us, being assisted
in that by my friend Breintnal. I had also paper, parchment,
chapmen's books, etc. One Whitemash, a compositor I had known in London,
an excellent workman, now came to me, and work'd with me constantly
and diligently; and I took an apprentice, the son of Aquila Rose.

I began now gradually to pay off the debt I was under for the
printing-house. In order to secure my credit and character as a tradesman,
I took care not only to be in reality industrious and frugal,
but to avoid all appearances to the contrary. I drest plainly;
I was seen at no places of idle diversion. I never went out a fishing
or shooting; a book, indeed, sometimes debauch'd me from my work,
but that was seldom, snug, and gave no scandal; and, to show that I
was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper
I purchas'd at the stores thro' the streets on a wheelbarrow.
Thus being esteem'd an industrious, thriving young man, and paying
duly for what I bought, the merchants who imported stationery
solicited my custom; others proposed supplying me with books,
and I went on swimmingly. In the mean time, Keimer's credit
and business declining daily, he was at last forc'd to sell his
printing house to satisfy his creditors. He went to Barbadoes,
and there lived some years in very poor circumstances.

His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had instructed while I work'd
with him, set up in his place at Philadelphia, having bought
his materials. I was at first apprehensive of a powerful rival
in Harry, as his friends were very able, and had a good deal
of interest. I therefore propos'd a partner-ship to him which he,
fortunately for me, rejected with scorn. He was very proud,
dress'd like a gentleman, liv'd expensively, took much diversion
and pleasure abroad, ran in debt, and neglected his business;
upon which, all business left him; and, finding nothing to do,
he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, taking the printing-house with him.
There this apprentice employ'd his former master as a journeyman;
they quarrel'd often; Harry went continually behindhand, and at
length was forc'd to sell his types and return to his country work
in Pensilvania. The person that bought them employ'd Keimer to use them,
but in a few years he died.

There remained now no competitor with me at Philadelphia but the
old one, Bradford; who was rich and easy, did a little printing
now and then by straggling hands, but was not very anxious
about the business. However, as he kept the post-office, it was
imagined he had better opportunities of obtaining news; his paper
was thought a better distributer of advertisements than mine,
and therefore had many, more, which was a profitable thing to him,
and a disadvantage to me; for, tho' I did indeed receive and send
papers by the post, yet the publick opinion was otherwise, for what
I did send was by bribing the riders, who took them privately,
Bradford being unkind enough to forbid it, which occasion'd some
resentment on my part; and I thought so meanly of him for it, that,
when I afterward came into his situation, I took care never to imitate it.

I had hitherto continu'd to board with Godfrey, who lived in part
of my house with his wife and children, and had one side of the shop
for his glazier's business, tho' he worked little, being always
absorbed in his mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey projected a match for me
with a relation's daughter, took opportunities of bringing us often
together, till a serious courtship on my part ensu'd, the girl being
in herself very deserving. The old folks encourag'd me by continual
invitations to supper, and by leaving us together, till at length
it was time to explain. Mrs. Godfrey manag'd our little treaty.
I let her know that I expected as much money with their daughter
as would pay off my remaining debt for the printing-house, which I
believe was not then above a hundred pounds. She brought me word
they had no such sum to spare; I said they might mortgage their
house in the loan-office. The answer to this, after some days, was,
that they did not approve the match; that, on inquiry of Bradford,
they had been inform'd the printing business was not a profitable one;
the types would soon be worn out, and more wanted; that S. Keimer
and D. Harry had failed one after the other, and I should probably
soon follow them; and, therefore, I was forbidden the house,
and the daughter shut up.

Whether this was a real change of sentiment or only artifice,
on a supposition of our being too far engaged in affection to retract,
and therefore that we should steal a marriage, which would leave
them at liberty to give or withhold what they pleas'd, I know not;
but I suspected the latter, resented it, and went no more.
Mrs. Godfrey brought me afterward some more favorable accounts of
their disposition, and would have drawn me on again; but I declared
absolutely my resolution to have nothing more to do with that family.
This was resented by the Godfreys; we differ'd, and they removed,
leaving me the whole house, and I resolved to take no more inmates.

But this affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I look'd
round me and made overtures of acquaintance in other places;
but soon found that, the business of a printer being generally
thought a poor one, I was not to expect money with a wife,
unless with such a one as I should not otherwise think agreeable.
In the mean time, that hard-to-be-governed passion of youth hurried
me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way,
which were attended with some expense and great inconvenience,
besides a continual risque to my health by a distemper which of
all things I dreaded, though by great good luck I escaped it.
A friendly correspondence as neighbors and old acquaintances
had continued between me and Mrs. Read's family, who all had a
regard for me from the time of my first lodging in their house.
I was often invited there and consulted in their affairs,
wherein I sometimes was of service. I piti'd poor Miss Read's
unfortunate situation, who was generally dejected, seldom cheerful,
and avoided company. I considered my giddiness and inconstancy
when in London as in a great degree the cause of her unhappiness,
tho' the mother was good enough to think the fault more her own
than mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went thither,
and persuaded the other match in my absence. Our mutual affection
was revived, but there were now great objections to our union.
The match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being
said to be living in England; but this could not easily be prov'd,
because of the distance; and, tho' there was a report of his death,
it was not certain. Then, tho' it should be true, he had left
many debts, which his successor might be call'd upon to pay.
We ventured, however, over all these difficulties, and I took her
to wife, September 1st, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened
that we had apprehended, she proved a good and faithful helpmate,
assisted me much by attending the shop; we throve together, and have
ever mutually endeavored to make each other happy. Thus I corrected
that great erratum as well as I could.

About this time, our club meeting, not at a tavern, but in a little
room of Mr. Grace's, set apart for that purpose, a proposition
was made by me, that, since our books were often referr'd to in our
disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them
altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted;
and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should,
while we lik'd to keep them together, have each of us the advantage
of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly
as beneficial as if each owned the whole. It was lik'd and agreed to,
and we fill'd one end of the room with such books as we could
best spare. The number was not so great as we expected; and tho'
they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences occurring
for want of due care of them, the collection, after about a year,
was separated, and each took his books home again

And now I set on foot my first project of a public nature, that for
a subscription library. I drew up the proposals, got them put into
form by our great scrivener, Brockden, and, by the help of my friends
in the Junto, procured fifty subscribers of forty shillings each
to begin with, and ten shillings a year for fifty years, the term
our company was to continue. We afterwards obtain'd a charter,
the company being increased to one hundred: this was the mother
of all the North American subscription libraries, now so numerous.
It is become a great thing itself, and continually increasing.
These libraries have improved the general conversation of the Americans,
made the common tradesmen and farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen
from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree
to the stand so generally made throughout the colonies in defense
of their privileges.

Memo. Thus far was written with the intention express'd in the beginning
and therefore contains several little family anecdotes of no importance
to others. What follows was written many years after in compliance
with the advice contain'd in these letters, and accordingly intended for
the public. The affairs of the Revolution occasion'd the interruption.

Letter from Mr. Abel James, with Notes of my Life
(received in Paris).

"MY DEAR AND HONORED FRIEND: I have often been desirous of
writing to thee, but could not be reconciled to the thought that
the letter might fall into the hands of the British, lest some
printer or busy-body should publish some part of the contents,
and give our friend pain, and myself censure.

"Some time since there fell into my hands, to my great joy,
about twenty-three sheets in thy own handwriting, containing an
account of the parentage and life of thyself, directed to thy son,
ending in the year 1730, with which there were notes, likewise in
thy writing; a copy of which I inclose, in hopes it may be a means,
if thou continued it up to a later period, that the first and latter
part may be put together; and if it is not yet continued, I hope thee
will not delay it. Life is uncertain, as the preacher tells us;
and what will the world say if kind, humane, and benevolent Ben.
Franklin should leave his friends and the world deprived of so pleasing
and profitable a work; a work which would be useful and entertaining
not only to a few, but to millions? The influence writings under
that class have on the minds of youth is very great, and has nowhere
appeared to me so plain, as in our public friend's journals.
It almost insensibly leads the youth into the resolution of endeavoring
to become as good and eminent as the journalist. Should thine,
for instance, when published (and I think it could not fail of
it), lead the youth to equal the industry and temperance of thy
early youth, what a blessing with that class would such a work be!
I know of no character living, nor many of them put together,
who has so much in his power as thyself to promote a greater spirit
of industry and early attention to business, frugality, and temperance
with the American youth. Not that I think the work would have no
other merit and use in the world, far from it; but the first is
of such vast importance that I know nothing that can equal it."

The foregoing letter and the minutes accompanying it being shown
to a friend, I received from him the following:

Letter from Mr. Benjamin Vaughan.
"PARIS, January 31, 1783.

"My DEAREST SIR: When I had read over your sheets of minutes
of the principal incidents of your life, recovered for you by your
Quaker acquaintance, I told you I would send you a letter expressing
my reasons why I thought it would be useful to complete and publish
it as he desired. Various concerns have for some time past prevented
this letter being written, and I do not know whether it was worth
any expectation; happening to be at leisure, however, at present,
I shall by writing, at least interest and instruct myself; but as the
terms I am inclined to use may tend to offend a person of your manners,
I shall only tell you how I would address any other person,
who was as good and as great as yourself, but less diffident.
I would say to him, Sir, I solicit the history of your life
from the following motives: Your history is so remarkable,
that if you do not give it, somebody else will certainly give it;
and perhaps so as nearly to do as much harm, as your own management
of the thing might do good. It will moreover present a table
of the internal circumstances of your country, which will very
much tend to invite to it settlers of virtuous and manly minds.
And considering the eagerness with which such information is sought
by them, and the extent of your reputation, I do not know of a
more efficacious advertisement than your biography would give.
All that has happened to you is also connected with the detail
of the manners and situation of a rising people; and in this
respect I do not think that the writings of Caesar and Tacitus can
be more interesting to a true judge of human nature and society.
But these, sir, are small reasons, in my opinion, compared with
the chance which your life will give for the forming of future
great men; and in conjunction with your Art of Virtue (which you
design to publish) of improving the features of private character,
and consequently of aiding all happiness, both public and domestic.
The two works I allude to, sir, will in particular give a noble
rule and example of self-education. School and other education
constantly proceed upon false principles, and show a clumsy
apparatus pointed at a false mark; but your apparatus is simple,
and the mark a true one; and while parents and young persons
are left destitute of other just means of estimating and becoming
prepared for a reasonable course in life, your discovery that
the thing is in many a man's private power, will be invaluable!
Influence upon the private character, late in life, is not only
an influence late in life, but a weak influence. It is in youth
that we plant our chief habits and prejudices; it is in youth
that we take our party as to profession, pursuits and matrimony.
In youth, therefore, the turn is given; in youth the education even
of the next generation is given; in youth the private and public
character is determined; and the term of life extending but from youth
to age, life ought to begin well from youth, and more especially
before we take our party as to our principal objects. But your
biography will not merely teach self-education, but the education
of a wise man; and the wisest man will receive lights and improve
his progress, by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man.
And why are weaker men to be deprived of such helps, when we see
our race has been blundering on in the dark, almost without a guide
in this particular, from the farthest trace of time? Show then,
sir, how much is to be done, both to sons and fathers; and invite
all wise men to become like yourself, and other men to become wise.
When we see how cruel statesmen and warriors can be to the human race,
and how absurd distinguished men can be to their acquaintance,
it will be instructive to observe the instances multiply of pacific,
acquiescing manners; and to find how compatible it is to be great
and domestic, enviable and yet good-humored.

"The little private incidents which you will also have to relate,
will have considerable use, as we want, above all things, rules of
prudence in ordinary affairs; and it will be curious to see how you
have acted in these. It will be so far a sort of key to life,
and explain many things that all men ought to have once explained
to them, to give, them a chance of becoming wise by foresight.
The nearest thing to having experience of one's own, is to have other
people's affairs brought before us in a shape that is interesting;
this is sure to happen from your pen; our affairs and management will
have an air of simplicity or importance that will not fail to strike;
and I am convinced you have conducted them with as much originality
as if you had been conducting discussions in politics or philosophy;
and what more worthy of experiments and system (its importance and its
errors considered) than human life?

"Some men have been virtuous blindly, others have speculated
fantastically, and others have been shrewd to bad purposes;
but you, sir, I am sure, will give under your hand, nothing but
what is at the same moment, wise, practical and good, your account
of yourself (for I suppose the parallel I am drawing for Dr. Franklin,
will hold not only in point of character, but of private history)
will show that you are ashamed of no origin; a thing the more important,
as you prove how little necessary all origin is to happiness, virtue,
or greatness. As no end likewise happens without a means, so we
shall find, sir, that even you yourself framed a plan by which you
became considerable; but at the same time we may see that though
the event is flattering, the means are as simple as wisdom could
make them; that is, depending upon nature, virtue, thought and
habit. Another thing demonstrated will be the propriety of everyman's
waiting for his time for appearing upon the stage of the world.
Our sensations being very much fixed to the moment, we are apt to
forget that more moments are to follow the first, and consequently
that man should arrange his conduct so as to suit the whole of a life.
Your attribution appears to have been applied to your life, and the
passing moments of it have been enlivened with content and enjoyment
instead of being tormented with foolish impatience or regrets.
Such a conduct is easy for those who make virtue and themselves
in countenance by examples of other truly great men, of whom
patience is so often the characteristic. Your Quaker correspondent,
sir (for here again I will suppose the subject of my letter resembling
Dr. Franklin), praised your frugality, diligence and temperance,
which he considered as a pattern for all youth; but it is singular
that he should have forgotten your modesty and your disinterestedness,
without which you never could have waited for your advancement,
or found your situation in the mean time comfortable; which is
a strong lesson to show the poverty of glory and the importance
of regulating our minds. If this correspondent had known the nature
of your reputation as well as I do, he would have said, Your former
writings and measures would secure attention to your Biography,
and Art of Virtue; and your Biography and Art of Virtue, in return,
would secure attention to them. This is an advantage attendant upon
a various character, and which brings all that belongs to it into
greater play; and it is the more useful, as perhaps more persons
are at a loss for the means of improving their minds and characters,
than they are for the time or the inclination to do it. But there
is one concluding reflection, sir, that will shew the use of your life
as a mere piece of biography. This style of writing seems a little
gone out of vogue, and yet it is a very useful one; and your specimen
of it may be particularly serviceable, as it will make a subject of
comparison with the lives of various public cutthroats and intriguers,
and with absurd monastic self-tormentors or vain literary triflers.
If it encourages more writings of the same kind with your own,
and induces more men to spend lives fit to be written, it will be
worth all Plutarch's Lives put together. But being tired of figuring
to myself a character of which every feature suits only one man in
the world, without giving him the praise of it, I shall end my letter,
my dear Dr. Franklin, with a personal application to your proper self.
I am earnestly desirous, then, my dear sir, that you should let the
world into the traits of your genuine character, as civil broils nay
otherwise tend to disguise or traduce it. Considering your great age,
the caution of your character, and your peculiar style of thinking,
it is not likely that any one besides yourself can be sufficiently
master of the facts of your life, or the intentions of your mind.
Besides all this, the immense revolution of the present period,
will necessarily turn our attention towards the author of it,
and when virtuous principles have been pretended in it, it will be
highly important to shew that such have really influenced; and, as your
own character will be the principal one to receive a scrutiny,
it is proper (even for its effects upon your vast and rising country,
as well as upon England and upon Europe) that it should stand
respectable and eternal. For the furtherance of human happiness,
I have always maintained that it is necessary to prove that
man is not even at present a vicious and detestable animal;
and still more to prove that good management may greatly amend him;
and it is for much the same reason, that I am anxious to see
the opinion established, that there are fair characters existing
among the individuals of the race; for the moment that all men,
without exception, shall be conceived abandoned, good people will
cease efforts deemed to be hopeless, and perhaps think of taking
their share in the scramble of life, or at least of making it
comfortable principally for themselves. Take then, my dear sir,
this work most speedily into hand: shew yourself good as you are good;
temperate as you are temperate; and above all things, prove yourself
as one, who from your infancy have loved justice, liberty and concord,
in a way that has made it natural and consistent for you to have acted,
as we have seen you act in the last seventeen years of your life.
Let Englishmen be made not only to respect, but even to love you.
When they think well of individuals in your native country,
they will go nearer to thinking well of your country; and when your
countrymen see themselves well thought of by Englishmen, they will go
nearer to thinking well of England. Extend your views even further;
do not stop at those who speak the English tongue, but after having
settled so many points in nature and politics, think of bettering
the whole race of men. As I have not read any part of the life
in question, but know only the character that lived it, I write
somewhat at hazard. I am sure, however, that the life and the treatise
I allude to (on the Art of Virtue) will necessarily fulfil the chief
of my expectations; and still more so if you take up the measure
of suiting these performances to the several views above stated.
Should they even prove unsuccessful in all that a sanguine admirer
of yours hopes from them, you will at least have framed pieces
to interest the human mind; and whoever gives a feeling of pleasure
that is innocent to man, has added so much to the fair side of a life
otherwise too much darkened by anxiety and too much injured by pain.
In the hope, therefore, that you will listen to the prayer addressed
to you in this letter, I beg to subscribe myself, my dearest sir,
etc., etc.,

"Signed, BENJ. VAUGHAN."

Continuation of the Account of my Life, begun at Passy, near Paris, 1784.

It is some time since I receiv'd the above letters, but I have been
too busy till now to think of complying with the request they contain.
It might, too, be much better done if I were at home among my papers,
which would aid my memory, and help to ascertain dates; but my
return being uncertain and having just now a little leisure, I will
endeavor to recollect and write what I can; if I live to get home,
it may there be corrected and improv'd.

Not having any copy here of what is already written, I know
not whether an account is given of the means I used to establish
the Philadelphia public library, which, from a small beginning,
is now become so considerable, though I remember to have come
down to near the time of that transaction (1730). I will therefore
begin here with an account of it, which may be struck out if found
to have been already given.

At the time I establish'd myself in Pennsylvania, there was not a good
bookseller's shop in any of the colonies to the southward of Boston.
In New York and Philad'a the printers were indeed stationers; they sold
only paper, etc., almanacs, ballads, and a few common school-books. Those
who lov'd reading were oblig'd to send for their books from England;
the members of the Junto had each a few. We had left the alehouse,
where we first met, and hired a room to hold our club in.
I propos'd that we should all of us bring our books to that room,
where they would not only be ready to consult in our conferences,
but become a common benefit, each of us being at liberty to borrow
such as he wish'd to read at home. This was accordingly done,
and for some time contented us.

Finding the advantage of this little collection, I propos'd to
render the benefit from books more common, by commencing a public
subscription library. I drew a sketch of the plan and rules that would
be necessary, and got a skilful conveyancer, Mr. Charles Brockden,
to put the whole in form of articles of agreement to be subscribed,
by which each subscriber engag'd to pay a certain sum down for the first
purchase of books, and an annual contribution for increasing them.
So few were the readers at that time in Philadelphia, and the majority
of us so poor, that I was not able, with great industry, to find
more than fifty persons, mostly young tradesmen, willing to pay down
for this purpose forty shillings each, and ten shillings per annum.
On this little fund we began. The books were imported; the library
wag opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers,
on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned.
The institution soon manifested its utility, was imitated by
other towns, and in other provinces. The libraries were augmented
by donations; reading became fashionable; and our people,
having no publick amusements to divert their attention from study,
became better acquainted with books, and in a few years were
observ'd by strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent
than people of the same rank generally are in other countries.

When we were about to sign the above-mentioned articles, which were
to be binding upon us, our heirs, etc., for fifty years, Mr. Brockden,
the scrivener, said to us, "You are young men, but it is scarcely
probable that any of you will live to see the expiration of the term
fix'd in the instrument." A number of us, however, are yet living;
but the instrument was after a few years rendered null by a charter
that incorporated and gave perpetuity to the company.

The objections and reluctances I met with in soliciting the subscriptions,
made me soon feel the impropriety of presenting one's self as the
proposer of any useful project, that might be suppos'd to raise one's
reputation in the smallest degree above that of one's neighbors,
when one has need of their assistance to accomplish that project.
I therefore put myself as much as I could out of sight, and stated
it as a scheme of a number of friends, who had requested me to go
about and propose it to such as they thought lovers of reading.
In this way my affair went on more smoothly, and I ever after
practis'd it on such occasions; and, from my frequent successes,
can heartily recommend it. The present little sacrifice of your
vanity will afterwards be amply repaid. If it remains a while
uncertain to whom the merit belongs, some one more vain than
yourself will be encouraged to claim it, and then even envy will
be disposed to do you justice by plucking those assumed feathers,
and restoring them to their right owner.

This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study,
for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair'd
in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once
intended for me. Reading was the only amusement I allow'd myself.
I spent no time in taverns, games, or frolicks of any kind;
and my industry in my business continu'd as indefatigable
as it was necessary. I was indebted for my printing-house;
I had a young family coming on to be educated, and I had to contend
with for business two printers, who were established in the place
before me. My circumstances, however, grew daily easier.
My original habits of frugality continuing, and my father having,
among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb
of Solomon, "Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand
before kings, he shall not stand before mean men," I from thence
considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction,
which encourag'd me, tho' I did not think that I should ever
literally stand before kings, which, however, has since happened;
for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting
down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner.

We have an English proverb that says, "He that would thrive, must ask
his wife." It was lucky for me that I had one as much dispos'd
to industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully
in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop,
purchasing old linen rags for the papermakers, etc., etc. We kept
no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture
of the cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time bread
and milk (no tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen porringer,
with a pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will enter families,
and make a progress, in spite of principle: being call'd one morning
to breakfast, I found it in a China bowl, with a spoon of silver!
They had been bought for me without my knowledge by my wife,
and had cost her the enormous sum of three-and-twenty shillings,
for which she had no other excuse or apology to make, but that she
thought her husband deserv'd a silver spoon and China bowl as well
as any of his neighbors. This was the first appearance of plate
and China in our house, which afterward, in a course of years,
as our wealth increas'd, augmented gradually to several hundred pounds
in value.

I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho'
some of the dogmas of that persuasion, such as the eternal decrees
of God, election, reprobation, etc., appeared to me unintelligible,
others doubtful, and I early absented myself from the public
assemblies of the sect, Sunday being my studying day, I never was
without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance,
the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd
it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was
the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime
will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.
These I esteem'd the essentials of every religion; and, being to
be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected
them all, tho' with different degrees of respect, as I found them
more or less mix'd with other articles, which, without any tendency
to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, serv'd principally
to divide us, and make us unfriendly to one another. This respect
to all, with an opinion that the worst had some good effects,
induc'd me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen
the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as
our province increas'd in people, and new places of worship were
continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contributions,
my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.

Tho' I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion
of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted,
and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of
the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia.
He us'd to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me
to attend his administrations, and I was now and then prevail'd
on to do so, once for five Sundays successively. Had he been
in my opinion a good preacher, perhaps I might have continued,
notwithstanding the occasion I had for the Sunday's leisure in my
course of study; but his discourses were chiefly either polemic
arguments, or explications of the peculiar doctrines of our sect,
and were all to me very dry, uninteresting, and unedifying,
since not a single moral principle was inculcated or enforc'd, their
aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens.

At length he took for his text that verse of the fourth chapter
of Philippians, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
honest, just, pure, lovely, or of good report, if there be any virtue,
or any praise, think on these things." And I imagin'd, in a sermon
on such a text, we could not miss of having some morality.
But he confin'd himself to five points only, as meant by the apostle,
viz.: 1. Keeping holy the Sabbath day. 2. Being diligent in reading
the holy Scriptures. 3. Attending duly the publick worship.
4. Partaking of the Sacrament. 5. Paying a due respect to
God's ministers. These might be all good things; but, as they
were not the kind of good things that I expected from that text,
I despaired of ever meeting with them from any other, was disgusted,
and attended his preaching no more. I had some years before compos'd
a little Liturgy, or form of prayer, for my own private use (viz.,
in 1728), entitled, Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion.
I return'd to the use of this, and went no more to the public assemblies.
My conduct might be blameable, but I leave it, without attempting
further to excuse it; my present purpose being to relate facts,
and not to make apologies for them.

It was about this time I conceiv'd the bold and arduous project
of arriving at moral perfection. I wish'd to live without
committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either
natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew,
or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I
might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found
I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I bad imagined.
While my care was employ'd in guarding against one fault, I was
often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention;
inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length,
that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be
completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping;
and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired
and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady,
uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived
the following method.

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met
with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous,
as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name.
Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking,
while by others it was extended to mean the moderating every
other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental,
even to our avarice and ambition. I propos'd to myself, for the sake
of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex'd
to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under
thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr'd to me
as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept,
which fully express'd the extent I gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself;
avoid trifling conversation.

3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part
of your business have its time.

4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without
fail what you resolve.

5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself;
i.e., waste nothing.

6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful;
cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly,
and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits
that are your duty.

9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much
as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths,
or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents
common or unavoidable.

12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring,
never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's
peace or reputation.

13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues,
I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting
the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I
should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on,
till I should have gone thro' the thirteen; and, as the previous
acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others,
I arrang'd them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first,
as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is
so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard
maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits,
and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquir'd
and establish'd, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being
to gain knowledge at the same time that I improv'd in virtue,
and considering that in conversation it was obtain'd rather by the use
of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break
a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking,
which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave Silence
the second place. This and the next, Order, I expected would
allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies.
Resolution, once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavors
to obtain all the subsequent virtues; Frugality and Industry freeing
me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence,
would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc., etc.
Conceiving then, that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras
in his Golden Verses, daily examination would be necessary,
I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues.
I rul'd each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns,
one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter
for the day. I cross'd these columns with thirteen red lines,
marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of
the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark,
by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination
to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.

Form of the pages.

| | S.| M.| T.| W.| T.| F.| S.|
| T.| | | | | | | |
| S.| * | * | | * | | * | |
| O.| **| * | * | | * | * | * |
| R.| | | * | | | * | |
| F.| | * | | | * | | |
| I.| | | * | | | | |
| S.| | | | | | | |
| J.| | | | | | | |
| M.| | | | | | | |
| C.| | | | | | | |
| T.| | | | | | | |
| C.| | | | | | | |
| H.| | | | | | | |

I determined to give a week's strict attention to each of
the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great
guard was to avoid every the least offence against Temperance,
leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking
every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week
I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos'd
the habit of that virtue so much strengthen'd and its opposite
weaken'd, that I might venture extending my attention to include
the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots.
Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro' a course compleat
in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him who,
having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad
herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works
on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplish'd the first,
proceeds to a second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging
pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue,
by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end,
by a number of courses, I should he happy in viewing a clean book,
after a thirteen weeks' daily examination.

This my little book had for its motto these lines from Addison's Cato:

"Here will I hold. If there's a power above us
(And that there is all nature cries aloud
Thro' all her works), He must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy."

Another from Cicero,

"O vitae Philosophia dux! O virtutum indagatrix
expultrixque vitiorum! Unus dies, bene et ex praeceptis
tuis actus, peccanti immortalitati est anteponendus."

Another from the Proverbs of Solomon, speaking of wisdom or virtue:

"Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand
riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace." iii. 16, 17.

And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it
right and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it;
to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefix'd
to my tables of examination, for daily use.

"O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide!
increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.
strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates.
Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return
in my power for thy continual favors to me."

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson's Poems,

"Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme!
O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
From every low pursuit; and fill my soul
With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure;
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!"

The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should
have its allotted time, one page in my little book contain'd the
following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day:

THE MORNING. { 5 } Rise, wash, and address
{ } Powerful Goodness! Contrive
Question. What good shall { 6 } day's business, and take the
I do this day? { } resolution of the day; prose-
{ 7 } cute the present study, and
{ } breakfast.
8 }
9 } Work.
10 }
11 }

NOON. { 12 } Read, or overlook my ac-
{ 1 } counts, and dine.
2 }
3 } Work.
4 }
5 }

EVENING. { 6 } Put things in their places.
{ 7 } Supper. Music or diversion,
Question. What good have { 8 } or conversation. Examination
I done to-day? { 9 } of the day.
{ 10 }
{ 11 }
{ 12 }

NIGHT. { 1 } Sleep.
{ 2 }
{ 3 }
{ 4 }

I enter'd upon the execution of this plan for self-examination,
and continu'd it with occasional intermissions for some time.
I was surpris'd to find myself so much fuller of faults than I
had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.
To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which,
by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room
for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transferr'd
my tables and precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book,
on which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain,
and on those lines I mark'd my faults with a black-lead pencil,
which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a
while I went thro' one course only in a year, and afterward only
one in several years, till at length I omitted them entirely,
being employ'd in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity
of affairs that interfered; but I always carried my little book
with me.

My scheme of ORDER gave me the most trouble; and I found that, tho'
it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave
him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer,
for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master,
who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business
at their own hours. Order, too, with regard to places for things,
papers, etc., I found extreamly difficult to acquire. I had not
been early accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory,
I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method.
This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults
in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment,
and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up
the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect,
like the man who, in buying an ax of a smith, my neighbour,
desired to have the whole of its surface as bright as the edge.
The smith consented to grind it bright for him if he would turn
the wheel; he turn'd, while the smith press'd the broad face of
the ax hard and heavily on the stone, which made the turning of it
very fatiguing. The man came every now and then from the wheel to see
how the work went on, and at length would take his ax as it was,
without farther grinding. "No," said the smith, "turn on, turn on;
we shall have it bright by-and-by; as yet, it is only speckled."
"Yes," said the man, "but I think I like a speckled ax best."
And I believe this may have been the case with many, who, having,
for want of some such means as I employ'd, found the difficulty
of obtaining good and breaking bad habits in other points of vice
and virtue, have given up the struggle, and concluded that "a
speckled ax was best"; for something, that pretended to be reason,
was every now and then suggesting to me that such extream nicety as I
exacted of myself might be a kind of foppery in morals, which, if it
were known, would make me ridiculous; that a perfect character
might be attended with the inconvenience of being envied and hated;
and that a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself,
to keep his friends in countenance.

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order;
and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly
the want of it. But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at
the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far
short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier
man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it;
as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies,
tho' they never reach the wish'd-for excellence of those copies,
their hand is mended by the endeavor, and is tolerable while it
continues fair and legible.

It may be well my posterity should be informed that to this
little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor ow'd the
constant felicity of his life, down to his 79th year, in which this
is written. What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand
of Providence; but, if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness
enjoy'd ought to help his bearing them with more resignation.
To Temperance he ascribes his long-continued health, and what is
still left to him of a good constitution; to Industry and Frugality,
the early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of his fortune,
with all that knowledge that enabled him to be a useful citizen,
and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned;
to Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his country,
and the honorable employs it conferred upon him; and to the joint
influence of the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect
state he was able to acquire them, all that evenness of temper,
and that cheerfulness in conversation, which makes his company
still sought for, and agreeable even to his younger acquaintance.
I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example
and reap the benefit.

It will be remark'd that, tho' my scheme was not wholly without religion,
there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets of any
particular sect. I had purposely avoided them; for, being fully
persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it
might be serviceable to people in all religions, and intending
some time or other to publish it, I would not have any thing
in it that should prejudice any one, of any sect, against it.
I purposed writing a little comment on each virtue, in which I
would have shown the advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs
attending its opposite vice; and I should have called my book THE
ART OF VIRTUE,<7> because it would have shown the means and manner
of obtaining virtue, which would have distinguished it from the mere
exhortation to be good, that does not instruct and indicate the means,
but is like the apostle's man of verbal charity, who only without
showing to the naked and hungry how or where they might get clothes
or victuals, exhorted them to be fed and clothed.--James ii. 15, 16.

<7> Nothing so likely to make a man's fortune as virtue.
--[Marg. note.]

But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this
comment was never fulfilled. I did, indeed, from time to time,
put down short hints of the sentiments, reasonings, etc., to be made
use of in it, some of which I have still by me; but the necessary
close attention to private business in the earlier part of thy life,
and public business since, have occasioned my postponing it; for,
it being connected in my mind with a great and extensive project,
that required the whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen
succession of employs prevented my attending to, it has hitherto
remain'd unfinish'd.

In this piece it was my design to explain and enforce this doctrine,
that vicious actions are not hurtful because they are forbidden,
but forbidden because they are hurtful, the nature of man
alone considered; that it was, therefore, every one's interest to be
virtuous who wish'd to be happy even in this world; and I should,
from this circumstance (there being always in the world a number
of rich merchants, nobility, states, and princes, who have need
of honest instruments for the management of their affairs,
and such being so rare), have endeavored to convince young persons
that no qualities were so likely to make a poor man's fortune
as those of probity and integrity.

My list of virtues contain'd at first but twelve; but a Quaker
friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud;
that my pride show'd itself frequently in conversation; that I
was not content with being in the right when discussing any point,
but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc'd
me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring
to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest,
and I added Humility to my list, giving an extensive meaning to
the word.

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue,
but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it.
I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the
sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own.
I even forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto,
the use of every word or expression in the language that imported
a fix'd opinion, such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc., and I adopted,
instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be
so or so; or it so appears to me at present. When another asserted
something that I thought an error, I deny'd myself the pleasure
of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some
absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing
that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right,
but in the present case there appear'd or seem'd to me some difference,
etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner;
the conversations I engag'd in went on more pleasantly. The modest
way in which I propos'd my opinions procur'd them a readier reception
and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found
to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail'd with others to give
up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right.

And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to
natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual
to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever
heard a dogmatical expression escape me. And to this habit (after
my character of integrity) I think it principally owing that I
had early so much weight with my fellow-citizens when I proposed
new institutions, or alterations in the old, and so much influence
in public councils when I became a member; for I was but a bad speaker,
never eloquent, subject to much hesitation in my choice of words,
hardly correct in language, and yet I generally carried my points.

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions
so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it,
beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is
still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself;
you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I
could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably
be proud of my humility.

[Thus far written at Passy, 1741.]

["I am now about to write at home, August, 1788, but can not have
the help expected from my papers, many of them being lost in the war.
I have, however, found the following."]<8>

<8>This is a marginal memorandum.--B.

HAVING mentioned a great and extensive project which I had
conceiv'd, it seems proper that some account should be here
given of that project and its object. Its first rise in my
mind appears in the following little paper, accidentally preserv'd, viz.:

Observations on my reading history, in Library, May 19th, 1731.

"That the great affairs of the world, the wars, revolutions,
etc., are carried on and affected by parties.

"That the view of these parties is their present general interest,
or what they take to be such.

"That the different views of these different parties occasion
all confusion.

"That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has
his particular private interest in view.

"That as soon as a party has gain'd its general point, each member
becomes intent upon his particular interest; which, thwarting others,
breaks that party into divisions, and occasions more confusion.

"That few in public affairs act from a meer view of the good of
their country, whatever they may pretend; and, tho' their actings
bring real good to their country, yet men primarily considered
that their own and their country's interest was united, and did
not act from a principle of benevolence.

"That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view to the good
of mankind.

"There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising
a United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men
of all nations into a regular body, to be govern'd by suitable
good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more
unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.

"I at present think that whoever attempts this aright, and is
well qualified, can not fail of pleasing God, and of meeting
with success. B. F."

Revolving this project in my mind, as to be undertaken hereafter,
when my circumstances should afford me the necessary leisure,
I put down from time to time, on pieces of paper, such thoughts
as occurr'd to me respecting it. Most of these are lost; but I find
one purporting to be the substance of an intended creed, containing,
as I thought, the essentials of every known religion, and being free
of every thing that might shock the professors of any religion.
It is express'd in these words, viz.:

"That there is one God, who made all things.

"That he governs the world by his providence.

"That he ought to be worshiped by adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving.

"But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to man.

"That the soul is immortal.

"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice either
here or hereafter."<9>

<9> In the Middle Ages, Franklin, if such a phenomenon as
Franklin were possible in the Middle Ages, would
probably have been the founder of a monastic order.--B.

My ideas at that time were, that the sect should be begun and
spread at first among young and single men only; that each person
to be initiated should not only declare his assent to such creed,
but should have exercised himself with the thirteen weeks'
examination and practice of the virtues, as in the before-mention'd model;
that the existence of such a society should he kept a secret,
till it was become considerable, to prevent solicitations
for the admission of improper persons, but that the members
should each of them search among his acquaintance for ingenuous,
well-disposed youths, to whom, with prudent caution, the scheme
should be gradually communicated; that the members should engage
to afford their advice, assistance, and support to each other
in promoting one another's interests, business, and advancement
in life; that, for distinction, we should be call'd The Society of
the Free and Easy: free, as being, by the general practice and habit
of the virtues, free from the dominion of vice; and particularly
by the practice of industry and frugality, free from debt, which
exposes a man to confinement, and a species of slavery to his creditors.

This is as much as I can now recollect of the project,
except that I communicated it in part to two young men, who adopted
it with some enthusiasm; but my then narrow circumstances,
and the necessity I was under of sticking close to my business,
occasion'd my postponing the further prosecution of it at that time;
and my multifarious occupations, public and private, induc'd me
to continue postponing, so that it has been omitted till I have no
longer strength or activity left sufficient for such an enterprise;
tho' I am still of opinion that it was a practicable scheme,
and might have been very useful, by forming a great number of
good citizens; and I was not discourag'd by the seeming magnitude
of the undertaking, as I have always thought that one man of tolerable
abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs
among mankind, if he first forms a good plan, and, cutting off all
amusements or other employments that would divert his attention,
makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.

In 1732 I first publish'd my Almanack, under the name of Richard Saunders;
it was continu'd by me about twenty-five years, commonly call'd
Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavor'd to make it both entertaining
and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reap'd
considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand.
And observing that it was generally read, scarce any neighborhood
in the province being without it, I consider'd it as a proper vehicle
for conveying instruction among the common people, who bought scarcely
any other books; I therefore filled all the little spaces that occurr'd
between the remarkable days in the calendar with proverbial sentences,
chiefly such as inculcated industry and frugality, as the means
of procuring wealth, and thereby securing virtue; it being more
difficult for a man in want, to act always honestly, as, to use
here one of those proverbs, it is hard for an empty sack to stand up-right.

These proverbs, which contained the wisdom of many ages and nations,
I assembled and form'd into a connected discourse prefix'd to the
Almanack of 1757, as the harangue of a wise old man to the people
attending an auction. The bringing all these scatter'd counsels
thus into a focus enabled them to make greater impression.
The piece, being universally approved, was copied in all the
newspapers of the Continent; reprinted in Britain on a broad side,
to be stuck up in houses; two translations were made of it in French,
and great numbers bought by the clergy and gentry, to distribute
gratis among their poor parishioners and tenants. In Pennsylvania,
as it discouraged useless expense in foreign superfluities, some thought
it had its share of influence in producing that growing plenty
of money which was observable for several years after its publication.

I considered my newspaper, also, as another means of communicating
instruction, and in that view frequently reprinted in it extracts
from the Spectator, and other moral writers; and sometimes publish'd
little pieces of my own, which had been first compos'd for reading
in our Junto. Of these are a Socratic dialogue, tending to prove that,
whatever might be his parts and abilities, a vicious man could not
properly be called a man of sense; and a discourse on self-denial,
showing that virtue was not secure till its practice became a habitude,
and was free from the opposition of contrary inclinations.
These may be found in the papers about the beginning Of 1735.

In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling
and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful
to our country. Whenever I was solicited to insert anything
of that kind, and the writers pleaded, as they generally did,
the liberty of the press, and that a newspaper was like a stagecoach,
in which any one who would pay had a right to a place, my answer was,
that I would print the piece separately if desired, and the author
might have as many copies as he pleased to distribute himself,
but that I would not take upon me to spread his detraction;
and that, having contracted with my subscribers to furnish them
with what might be either useful or entertaining, I could not fill
their papers with private altercation, in which they had no concern,
without doing them manifest injustice. Now, many of our printers make
no scruple of gratifying the malice of individuals by false accusations
of the fairest characters among ourselves, augmenting animosity
even to the producing of duels; and are, moreover, so indiscreet
as to print scurrilous reflections on the government of neighboring
states, and even on the conduct of our best national allies,
which may be attended with the most pernicious consequences.
These things I mention as a caution to young printers, and that
they may be encouraged not to pollute their presses and disgrace
their profession by such infamous practices, but refuse steadily,
as they may see by my example that such a course of conduct will not,
on the whole, be injurious to their interests.

In 1733 I sent one of my journeymen to Charleston, South Carolina,
where a printer was wanting. I furnish'd him with a press and letters,
on an agreement of partnership, by which I was to receive one-third
of the profits of the business, paying one-third of the expense.
He was a man of learning, and honest but ignorant in matters
of account; and, tho' he sometimes made me remittances, I could get
no account from him, nor any satisfactory state of our partnership
while he lived. On his decease, the business was continued by
his widow, who, being born and bred in Holland, where, as I have been
inform'd, the knowledge of accounts makes a part of female education,
she not only sent me as clear a state as she could find of the
transactions past, but continued to account with the greatest
regularity and exactness every quarter afterwards, and managed
the business with such success, that she not only brought up reputably
a family of children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able
to purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her son in it.

I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recommending that branch
of education for our young females, as likely to be of more use
to them and their children, in case of widowhood, than either music
or dancing, by preserving them from losses by imposition of crafty men,
and enabling them to continue, perhaps, a profitable mercantile house,
with establish'd correspondence, till a son is grown up fit to undertake
and go on with it, to the lasting advantage and enriching of the family.

About the year 1734 there arrived among us from Ireland a young
Presbyterian preacher, named Hemphill, who delivered with a
good voice, and apparently extempore, most excellent discourses,
which drew together considerable numbers of different persuasion,
who join'd in admiring them. Among the rest, I became one of his
constant hearers, his sermons pleasing me, as they had little
of the dogmatical kind, but inculcated strongly the practice
of virtue, or what in the religious stile are called good works.
Those, however, of our congregation, who considered themselves
as orthodox Presbyterians, disapprov'd his doctrine, and were join'd
by most of the old clergy, who arraign'd him of heterodoxy before
the synod, in order to have him silenc'd. I became his zealous partisan,
and contributed all I could to raise a party in his favour, and we
combated for him a while with some hopes of success. There was much
scribbling pro and con upon the occasion; and finding that, tho'
an elegant preacher, he was but a poor writer, I lent him my pen
and wrote for him two or three pamphlets, and one piece in the Gazette
of April, 1735. Those pamphlets, as is generally the case with
controversial writings, tho' eagerly read at the time, were soon
out of vogue, and I question whether a single copy of them now exists.

During the contest an unlucky occurrence hurt his cause exceedingly.
One of our adversaries having heard him preach a sermon that was
much admired, thought he had somewhere read the sermon before,
or at least a part of it. On search he found that part quoted
at length, in one of the British Reviews, from a discourse
of Dr. Foster's. This detection gave many of our party disgust,
who accordingly abandoned his cause, and occasion'd our more speedy
discomfiture in the synod. I stuck by him, however, as I rather
approv'd his giving us good sermons compos'd by others, than bad
ones of his own manufacture, tho' the latter was the practice
of our common teachers. He afterward acknowledg'd to me that none
of those he preach'd were his own; adding, that his memory was such
as enabled him to retain and repeat any sermon after one reading only.
On our defeat, he left us in search elsewhere of better fortune,
and I quitted the congregation, never joining it after, tho' I continu'd
many years my subscription for the support of its ministers.

I had begun in 1733 to study languages; I soon made myself so much
a master of the French as to be able to read the books with ease.
I then undertook the Italian. An acquaintance, who was also
learning it, us'd often to tempt me to play chess with him.
Finding this took up too much of the time I had to spare for study,
I at length refus'd to play any more, unless on this condition,
that the victor in every game should have a right to impose a task,
either in parts of the grammar to be got by heart, or in translations,
etc., which tasks the vanquish'd was to perform upon honour,
before our next meeting. As we play'd pretty equally, we thus beat
one another into that language. I afterwards with a little painstaking,
acquir'd as much of the Spanish as to read their books also.

I have already mention'd that I had only one year's instruction
in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected
that language entirely. But, when I had attained an acquaintance
with the French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surpriz'd to find,
on looking over a Latin Testament, that I understood so much more
of that language than I had imagined, which encouraged me to apply
myself again to the study of it, and I met with more success,
as those preceding languages had greatly smooth'd my way.

From these circumstances, I have thought that there is some inconsistency
in our common mode of teaching languages. We are told that it is
proper to begin first with the Latin, and, having acquir'd that,
it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are
deriv'd from it; and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order
more easily to acquire the Latin. It is true that, if you can
clamber and get to the top of a staircase without using the steps,
you will more easily gain them in descending; but certainly, if you
begin with the lowest you will with more ease ascend to the top;
and I would therefore offer it to the consideration of those who
superintend the education of our youth, whether, since many of
those who begin with the Latin quit the same after spending some
years without having made any great proficiency, and what they have
learnt becomes almost useless, so that their time has been lost,
it would not have been better to have begun with the French,
proceeding to the Italian, etc.; for, tho', after spending the same time,
they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at
the Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two,
that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.

After ten years' absence from Boston, and having become easy in
my circumstances, I made a journey thither to visit my relations,
which I could not sooner well afford. In returning, I call'd at Newport
to see my brother, then settled there with his printing-house. Our
former differences were forgotten, and our meeting was very cordial
and affectionate. He was fast declining in his health, and requested
of me that, in case of his death, which he apprehended not far distant,
I would take home his son, then but ten years of age, and bring him
up to the printing business. This I accordingly perform'd, sending
him a few years to school before I took him into the office.
His mother carried on the business till he was grown up, when I
assisted him with an assortment of new types, those of his father
being in a manner worn out. Thus it was that I made my brother ample
amends for the service I had depriv'd him of by leaving him so early.

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old,
by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly,
and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.
This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation,
on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves
if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret
may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should
be chosen.

Our club, the Junto, was found so useful, and afforded such satisfaction
to the members, that several were desirous of introducing their friends,
which could not well be done without exceeding what we had settled
as a convenient number, viz., twelve. We had from the beginning
made it a rule to keep our institution a secret, which was pretty
well observ'd; the intention was to avoid applications of improper
persons for admittance, some of whom, perhaps, we might find
it difficult to refuse. I was one of those who were against
any addition to our number, but, instead of it, made in writing
a proposal, that every member separately should endeavor to form
a subordinate club, with the same rules respecting queries,
etc., and without informing them of the connection with the Junto.
The advantages proposed were, the improvement of so many more young
citizens by the use of our institutions; our better acquaintance
with the general sentiments of the inhabitants on any occasion,
as the Junto member might propose what queries we should desire,
and was to report to the Junto what pass'd in his separate club;
the promotion of our particular interests in business by more
extensive recommendation, and the increase of our influence
in public affairs, and our power of doing good by spreading thro'
the several clubs the sentiments of the Junto.

The project was approv'd, and every member undertook to form his club,
but they did not all succeed. Five or six only were compleated,
which were called by different names, as the Vine, the Union,
the Band, etc. They were useful to themselves, and afforded us a good
deal of amusement, information, and instruction, besides answering,
in some considerable degree, our views of influencing the public
opinion on particular occasions, of which I shall give some instances
in course of time as they happened.

My first promotion was my being chosen, in 1736, clerk of the
General Assembly. The choice was made that year without opposition;
but the year following, when I was again propos'd (the choice,
like that of the members, being annual), a new member made a long
speech against me, in order to favour some other candidate.
I was, however, chosen, which was the more agreeable to me, as,
besides the pay for the immediate service as clerk, the place gave
me a better opportunity of keeping up an interest among the members,
which secur'd to me the business of printing the votes, laws, paper money,
and other occasional jobbs for the public, that, on the whole,
were very profitable.

I therefore did not like the opposition of this new member, who was
a gentleman of fortune and education, with talents that were likely
to give him, in time, great influence in the House, which, indeed,
afterwards happened. I did not, however, aim at gaining his
favour by paying any servile respect to him, but, after some time,
took this other method. Having heard that he had in his library
a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him,
expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he
would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days.
He sent it immediately, and I return'd it in about a week
with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour.
When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had
never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after
manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we
became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.
This is another instance of the truth of an old maxim I had learned,
which says, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more
ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged."
And it shows how much more profitable it is prudently to remove,
than to resent, return, and continue inimical proceedings.

In 1737, Colonel Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, and then
postmaster-general, being dissatisfied with the conduct of his
deputy at Philadelphia, respecting some negligence in rendering,
and inexactitude of his accounts, took from him the commission and offered
it to me. I accepted it readily, and found it of great advantage;
for, tho' the salary was small, it facilitated the correspondence
that improv'd my newspaper, increas'd the number demanded, as well
as the advertisements to be inserted, so that it came to afford
me a considerable income. My old competitor's newspaper declin'd
proportionably, and I was satisfy'd without retaliating his refusal,
while postmaster, to permit my papers being carried by the riders.
Thus he suffer'd greatly from his neglect in due accounting; and I
mention it as a lesson to those young men who may be employ'd in
managing affairs for others, that they should always render accounts,
and make remittances, with great clearness and punctuality.
The character of observing such a conduct is the most powerful
of all recommendations to new employments and increase of business.

I began now to turn my thoughts a little to public affairs,
beginning, however, with small matters. The city watch was
one of the first things that I conceiv'd to want regulation.
It was managed by the constables of the respective wards in turn;
the constable warned a number of housekeepers to attend him for
the night. Those who chose never to attend paid him six shillings
a year to be excus'd, which was suppos'd to be for hiring substitutes,
but was, in reality, much more than was necessary for that purpose,
and made the constableship a place of profit; and the constable,
for a little drink, often got such ragamuffins about him as a watch,
that respectable housekeepers did not choose to mix with.
Walking the rounds, too, was often neglected, and most of the nights
spent in tippling. I thereupon wrote a paper, to be read in Junto,
representing these irregularities, but insisting more particularly
on the inequality of this six-shilling tax of the constables,
respecting the circumstances of those who paid it, since a poor
widow housekeeper, all whose property to be guarded by the watch
did not perhaps exceed the value of fifty pounds, paid as much as
the wealthiest merchant, who had thousands of pounds worth of goods
in his stores.

On the whole, I proposed as a more effectual watch, the hiring
of proper men to serve constantly in that business; and as a more
equitable way of supporting the charge the levying a tax that
should be proportion'd to the property. This idea, being approv'd
by the Junto, was communicated to the other clubs, but as arising
in each of them; and though the plan was not immediately carried
into execution, yet, by preparing the minds of people for the change,
it paved the way for the law obtained a few years after,
when the members of our clubs were grown into more influence.

About this time I wrote a paper (first to be read in Junto, but it
was afterward publish'd) on the different accidents and carelessnesses
by which houses were set on fire, with cautions against them,
and means proposed of avoiding them. This was much spoken of as a
useful piece, and gave rise to a project, which soon followed it,
of forming a company for the more ready extinguishing of fires,
and mutual assistance in removing and securing the goods when in danger.
Associates in this scheme were presently found, amounting to thirty.
Our articles of agreement oblig'd every member to keep always in
good order, and fit for use, a certain number of leather buckets,
with strong bags and baskets (for packing and transporting of goods),
which were to be brought to every fire; and we agreed to meet once
a month and spend a social evening together, in discoursing and
communicating such ideas as occurred to us upon the subject of fires,
as might be useful in our conduct on such occasions.

The utility of this institution soon appeared, and many more desiring
to be admitted than we thought convenient for one company, they were
advised to form another, which was accordingly done; and this went on,
one new company being formed after another, till they became so numerous
as to include most of the inhabitants who were men of property;
and now, at the time of my writing this, tho' upward of fifty years
since its establishment, that which I first formed, called the Union
Fire Company, still subsists and flourishes, tho' the first members
are all deceas'd but myself and one, who is older by a year than I am.
The small fines that have been paid by members for absence at the monthly
meetings have been apply'd to the purchase of fire-engines, ladders,
fire-hooks, and other useful implements for each company, so that I
question whether there is a city in the world better provided with
the means of putting a stop to beginning conflagrations; and, in fact,
since these institutions, the city has never lost by fire more
than one or two houses at a time, and the flames have often been
extinguished before the house in which they began has been half consumed.

In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield,
who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher.
He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches;
but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refus'd him their pulpits,
and he was oblig'd to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all
sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous,
and it was matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number,
to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers,
and how much they admir'd and respected him, notwithstanding his
common abuse of them, by assuring them that they were naturally half
beasts and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon
made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless
or indifferent about religion, it seem'd as if all the world
were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town
in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of
every street.

And it being found inconvenient to assemble in the open air,
subject to its inclemencies, the building of a house to meet in was
no sooner propos'd, and persons appointed to receive contributions,
but sufficient sums were soon receiv'd to procure the ground and erect
the building, which was one hundred feet long and seventy broad,
about the size of Westminster Hall; and the work was carried on
with such spirit as to be finished in a much shorter time than could
have been expected. Both house and ground were vested in trustees,
expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion
who might desire to say something to the people at Philadelphia;
the design in building not being to accommodate any particular sect,
but the inhabitants in general; so that even if the Mufti of
Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us,
he would find a pulpit at his service.

Mr. Whitefield, in leaving us, went preaching all the way thro'
the colonies to Georgia. The settlement of that province
had lately been begun, but, instead of being made with hardy,
industrious husbandmen, accustomed to labor, the only people fit
for such an enterprise, it was with families of broken shop-keepers
and other insolvent debtors, many of indolent and idle habits,
taken out of the jails, who, being set down in the woods, unqualified for
clearing land, and unable to endure the hardships of a new settlement,
perished in numbers, leaving many helpless children unprovided for.
The sight of their miserable situation inspir'd the benevolent heart
of Mr. Whitefield with the idea of building an Orphan House there,
in which they might be supported and educated. Returning northward,
he preach'd up this charity, and made large collections,
for his eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses
of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance.

I did not disapprove of the design, but, as Georgia was then
destitute of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send
them from Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have
been better to have built the house here, and brought the children
to it. This I advis'd; but he was resolute in his first project,
rejected my counsel, and I therefore refus'd to contribute.
I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons, in the course
of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection,
and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me, I had in my
pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars,
and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften,
and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory
made me asham'd of that, and determin'd me to give the silver;
and he finish'd so admirably, that I empty'd my pocket wholly into
the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon there was also
one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building
in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had,
by precaution, emptied his pockets before he came from home.
Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong
desire to give, and apply'd to a neighbour, who stood near him,
to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was
unfortunately [made] to perhaps the only man in the company who had
the firmness not to be affected by the preacher. His answer was,
"At any other time, Friend Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely;
but not now, for thee seems to be out of thy right senses."

Some of Mr. Whitefield's enemies affected to suppose that he would
apply these collections to his own private emolument; but I who was
intimately acquainted with him (being employed in printing his Sermons
and Journals, etc.), never had the least suspicion of his integrity,
but am to this day decidedly of opinion that he was in all his conduct
a perfectly honest man, and methinks my testimony in his favour
ought to have the more weight, as we had no religious connection.
He us'd, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion, but never
had the satisfaction of believing that his prayers were heard.
Ours was a mere civil friendship, sincere on both sides, and lasted
to his death.

The following instance will show something of the terms on which
we stood. Upon one of his arrivals from England at Boston,
he wrote to me that he should come soon to Philadelphia,
but knew not where he could lodge when there, as he understood
his old friend and host, Mr. Benezet, was removed to Germantown.
My answer was, "You know my house; if you can make shift with
its scanty accommodations, you will be most heartily welcome."
He reply'd, that if I made that kind offer for Christ's sake,
I should not miss of a reward. And I returned, "Don't let me
be mistaken; it was not for Christ's sake, but for your sake."
One of our common acquaintance jocosely remark'd, that, knowing it
to be the custom of the saints, when they received any favour,
to shift the burden of the obligation from off their own shoulders,
and place it in heaven, I had contriv'd to fix it on earth.

The last time I saw Mr. Whitefield was in London, when he consulted
me about his Orphan House concern, and his purpose of appropriating
it to the establishment of a college.

He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and
sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at
a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous,
observ'd the most exact silence. He preach'd one evening from the top
of the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of Market-street,
and on the west side of Second-street, which crosses it at right angles.
Both streets were fill'd with his hearers to a considerable distance.
Being among the hindmost in Market-street, I had the curiosity
to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down
the street towards the river; and I found his voice distinct till I
came near Front-street, when some noise in that street obscur'd it.
Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my distance should be the radius,
and that it were fill'd with auditors, to each of whom I allow'd
two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more
than thirty thousand. This reconcil'd me to the newspaper accounts
of his having preach'd to twenty-five thousand people in the fields,
and to the antient histories of generals haranguing whole armies,
of which I had sometimes doubted.

By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons
newly compos'd, and those which he had often preach'd in the course
of his travels. His delivery of the latter was so improv'd by frequent
repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation
of voice, was so perfectly well turn'd and well plac'd, that,
without being interested in the subject, one could not help being
pleas'd with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that
receiv'd from an excellent piece of musick. This is an advantage
itinerant preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter
can not well improve their delivery of a sermon by so many rehearsals.

His writing and printing from time to time gave great advantage
to his enemies; unguarded expressions, and even erroneous opinions,
delivered in preaching, might have been afterwards explain'd
or qualifi'd by supposing others that might have accompani'd them,
or they might have been deny'd; but litera scripta monet.
Critics attack'd his writings violently, and with so much appearance
of reason as to diminish the number of his votaries and prevent
their encrease; so that I am of opinion if he had never written
any thing, he would have left behind him a much more numerous
and important sect, and his reputation might in that case have been

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