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money, preyed upon his meagre purse, and increased the difficulties of his position. He found means, however, to fix himself in a considerable printingoffice, and became a model of industry and temperance, and an example well worthy of being followed by young men. He went to board with an old Catholic lady, at one shilling and six pence per week, and remained with her until his departure from England. He procured books for his lucubrations, at a small subscription, from a private collection of great extent, but was led astray by the sceptical writers that fell into his hands, and even wrote and printed himself a small treatise of infidel metaphysics. It drew upon him the notice of a deistical author, who introduced him to Mandeville, and some other spirits of the same order. His strong natural sense soon extricated him, however, from the illusions of the moment; and he has, by the reprobation of them to which he so often and earnestly returns in his memoirs, made ample amends. The other acts of his youth which he records as transgressions, are greatly extenuated by concomitant circumstances: they are so confessed as convey a most salutary moral; and it is evidently with this view, as well as in obedience to historical truth, that they are acknowledged.
It was in his twenty-first year, after a residence of eighteen months in London, that he set sail from Gravesend for Philadelphia, under the auspices of a friendly merchant who had engaged him, as clerk for a dry-goods shop, and given him the magnificent expectation of being promoted to the rank of supercargo to the West-Indies. This plan had well nigh been superceded by one which took, immediately before his departure, a stronger hold of his fancy; to wit, the opening of a school for swimming, an art in which he was remarkably expert. During the voyage homewards, he kept a journal, which shows that his style was already in a great
degree formed, and in which are to be discerned the intellectual habits that gave so much eclat and usefulness to his maturer years. On this voyage, too, he resolved to form some plan for his future conduct, by which he might promote his fortune, and procure respect and reputation in society. This plan is prefaced by the following reflections: "Those who write of the art of Poetry, teach us, that if we would write what would be worth the reading, we ought always, before we begin, to form a regular design of our piece; otherwise we shall be in danger of incongruity. I am apt to think it is the same as to life. I have never fixed a regular design in life; by which means it has been a confused variety of different scenes. I am now entering upon a new one: let me, therefore, make some resolutions, and form some scheme of action, that henceforth, I may live in all respects like a rational creature."
To these remarks he annexed a series of rules and moral principles, which, at the same time, they show his noble ardour for virtue, may afford those animated with the same spirit, no unprofitable example. They are as follow:
"I resolve to be extremely frugal for some time, until I pay what I owe.
"To speak the truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action; the most amiable excellence in a rational being.
"To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.
"I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and.
upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of every body," &c.
To these resolutions, although they were formed in the ardour of a youthful imagination, he adhered, with a scrupulous fidelity; and the foundation, we must admit, was not unworthy of the superstructure he afterwards reared upon it.
He arrived in Philadelphia on the 11th of October, and embarked upon his new adopted profession. But in the course of a few months, just as he began to make some figure in the mystery of a haberdasher, his employer died, and he had to return to his proper trade. An offer of large wages induced him to undertake the management of the printing-office of his quondam master, to whom he rendered, by his skill and industry, the most important service. They quarrelled ere long, and Franklin left him to form a similar establishment in connexion with a fellow journeyman, whose father, a man of some wealth, was to supply the stock. New types were purchased for the firm in London, and business followed apace. Our philosopher had recommended himself, by the perfect regularity of his deportment, and the intelligence of his conversation, to the favour of a number of leading persons, and had founded a club or debating society. composed of young men of some consideration, all of whom took a lively interest in his advancement. This club, the Junto, which discussed formally and laboriously, points of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, administered in an important degree to the improvement of his understanding, as well as of his fortunes.
The countenance of his friends, and still more his indefatigable assiduity in his office, contributed to remove obstacles of some magnitude. The establishment acquired consistency from day to day. In a short time a newspaper was added to it, and managed with equal ability. Franklin seiz
ed upon the topics most interesting to the public, and gave particular satisfaction by asserting the rights of the people, against the governor of Massachusetts, on the occasion of a dispute in which they were involved. The notice of the assembly of Pennsylvania was attracted to his paper, and but a short time elapsed before the editors were appointed its official printers. This he mentions as "one of the first good effects of his having learned to scribble."
In the year 1729, his partner, who had become a mere burden, happily retired from the association, and the capital which he withdrew was replaced, as a loan, by two of the many zealous friends whom Franklin had created. He greatly increased, at this time, his reputation and popularity, by publishing a pamphlet of his own, "On the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency." He treated this subject in such a manner as to occasion an additional emission of paper, which proved of signal utility to trade in general. The industry which he displayed, in every way, was truly admirable. He had opened a small stationer's shop, which he contrived to conduct in person, besides performing the manual labour of the printing office, arranging and replenishing his Gazette, writing pamphlets, and taking part in the literary exercises of the Junto. The paper which he purchased at the stores, he carried home through the streets in a wheelbarrow: though not twenty-four years of age, he abstained from all idle diversion, and if a book seduced him from his work, he read clandestinely, lest he should give scandal. Credit, confidence, and custom, were the natural effects of this demeanour. He was enabled by degrees to pay off his debt, and to venture upon marriage. Before his voyage to England, he had exchanged Vows with a Miss Read, a young lady of excellent character and respectable connexions. He neg
lected her somewhat, however, during his absence; and this circumstance, added to the exhortations of her relatives, hurried her into a match of a very inauspicious nature. She soon parted from a worthless husband, who fled from his creditors to the West Indies, and there died. Franklin finding her again free, renewed his addresses, as well to repair the wrong he accused himself of having committed by his neglect when in England, as to indulge the mutual affection which had revived in the intercourse of society. They were united in 1730, and he depicts her in his memoirs, as "a good and faithful helpmate."
About the date of his marriage, he projected a common library for the club, and soon afterwards procured the establishment of the Philadelphia Library, the fruitful mother of a hundred more,” throughout these states. This institution afforded him the means of wider research. He set apart a small portion of each day for study, and gave the remainder entirely to business. His domestic economy lost nothing by the presence of his wife in point of order and frugality, cheerfulness, and unremitting diligence. His mind became more intent, as his circumstances grew easier, upon the permanent regulation of his appetites, and the general perfection of his moral temperament. The edifying, sure train of reflection into which he fell on the subject, and the strict, ingenious system of discipline, which he followed for the purpose, may be seen at large in his memoirs. It will likewise be seen there, that he kept steadily in view the benefit to accrue to the public from his example and reasonings. He was brought early, by experience and meditation, to the conviction, that virtue, in the most enlarged sense, is the nepenthe of life; and, from first to last, his desire was not more earnest to secure it for himself than for the human race.