« PreviousContinue »
by stealth, and occasioned 'no scandal; and, to show that I did not think myself above my profession, I conveyed home sometimes in a wheelbarrow, the paper I had purchased at the warehouses.
I thus obtained the reputation of being an industrious young man, and very punctual in his payments. The merchants, who imported articles of stationary, solicited my custom; others offered to furnish me with books, and my little trade went on prosperously.
Meanwhile, the credit and business of Keimer diminishing every day, he was at last forced to sell his stock to satisfy his creditors ; and he betook himself to Barbadoes, where he lived for some time in a very impoverished state. His apprentice, David Harry, whom I had instructed wbile I worked with Keimer, having bought his materials, succeeded him in the business. I was apprehensive, at first, of finding in Harry a powerful competitor, as he was allied to an opulent and respectable family : I therefore proposed a partnership, which, happily for me, he rejected with disdain. He was extremely proud, thought himself a fine gentleman, lived extravagantly, and pursued amusements which suffered him to be scarcely ever at home; of consequence he became in debt, neglected his business, and business neglected him. Finding in a short time, nothing to do in the country, he followed Keimer to Barbadoes, carrying his printing materials with him. There the apprentice employed his old master as a journeyman. They were continually quarrelling; and Harry, still getting in debt, was obliged, at last, to sell his press and types, and return to his old occupation of husbandry in Pennsylvania. The person who purchased them, employed Keimer to manage the business : but he died a few years after.
1 hnd now at Philadelphia, no competitor but Bradford, who, being in easy circumstances, did not engage in the printing of books, except now and then as workmen chanced to offer themselves; and was not anxious to extend his trade. He had, however, one advantage over me, as he had the direction of tho post-office, and was, of consequence, supposed to have better opportunitias of obtaining news. His paper was also supposed to be more advantageous to adver
tising customers; and, in consequence of that suppo. sition, his advertisements were much more numerous than mine : this was a source of great profit to him, and disadvantageous to me. It was to no purpose that I really procured other papers, and distributed my own, by means of the post; and the publie took for granted, my inability in this respect; and I was, indeed, unable to conquer it in any other mode than by bribing the post-boys, who served me only by stealth, Bradford being so illiberal as to forbid them.. This treatment of big excited my resentment; and my disgust was so rooted, that, when I afterwards succeeded him in the post-office, I took care to avoid copying his example.
Úhad hitherto continued to board with Godfrey, who, with his wife and children, occupied part of my house, and half of the shop for his business; at which, indeed, he worked very litile, being always absorbed by mathematics. Mrs. Godfrey formed a wish of marrying me to the daughter of one of her relations. She contrived various opportunities of bringing us together, till she saw that I was captivated; which was not difficult; the lady in question possessing great personal merit. The parents encouraged my addresses, by inviting me continually to supper, and leaving us together, till at last it was time to come to an explanation. Mrs. Godfrey undertook to negociate, our little treaty. I gave her to understand, that I expected to receive with the young lady, a sum of money that would enable me, at least, to discharge the remainder of the debt for my printing materials. It was then. I believe, not more than a hundred pounde. She brought me for answer, that they had no such sum at their disposal. I observed that it might easily be obtained, by a mortgage on their house. The reply to this, was, after a few days interval, that they did not approve of the match; that they had consulted Bradford, and found that the business of a printer was not lucrative; that my letters would soon be worn out and must be supplied by new ones; that Keimer and Harry had failed, and ihat, probably, I should do so too. Accordingly they forbade me the house, and the young lady was confined. I know
riot if they had really changed their minds, or if it was merely an artifice, supposing our affections to be too far engaged for us to desist, and that we should contrive to marry secretly, which would leave them at liberty to give or not, as they pleased. But, suspecting this motive, I never went again to their house.
Some time after, Mrs. Godfrey informed me that they were favourably disposed towards me, and wish. ed me to renew the acquaintance ; but I declared a firm resolution never to have any thing more to do. with the family. The Godfreys expressed some resentment at this; and as we could no longer agree, they changed their residence, leaving me in possession of the whole house. I then resolved to take no more lodgers. This affair having turned my thoughts to marriage, I looked around me, and made overtures of alliance in other quarters; but I soon found that the profession of a printer, being generally looked upon as a poor trade, I could expect no money with a wife, at least, if I wished her to possess any other charm. Meanwhile, that passion of youth, so difficult to govern, had often drawn me into intrigues with despicable women who fell in my way; which were not unaccompanied with expense and inconvenience, besides the perpetual risk of injuring my health, and catching a disease which I dreaded above all things. But I was fortunate enough to escape this danger.
As a neighbour and old acquaintance, I had kept up a friendly, intiinacy with the family of Miss Reed. Her parents had retained an affection for me from the time of my lodging in their house. I was ofien invited thither; they consulted me about their affairs, and I had been sometimes serviceable to them. I was touched with the unhappy situation of thoir daughter, who was almost always melancholy, and continu. ally seeking solitude. I regarded my forgetfulness and inconstancy, during my abode in Lồndon, as the prin. cipal part of her misfortune, though her mother had the candour to attribute the fault to herself, rather than to me because, after having prevented our marriage previously to my departure, she had induced lier to marry another in my absence.
Our mutual affection revived; but there existed
great obstacles to our union. Her marriage was considered, indeed, as not being valid, the man having, it was said, a former wife still living in England; but of this it was difficult to obtain a proof at so great a distance; and though a report prevailed of bis being dead, yet we had no certainty of it; and, supposing it to be true, he had left many debts, for the payment of which his successor might be sued. We ventured, nevertheless, in spite of all these difficulties; and married her on the 1st of September, 1730. None of the inconveniences we had 'feared. happened to us. She proved to me a good and faithful companion, and contributed essentially to the success of my shop. We prospered together, and it was our mutual study to render each other happy. Thus I corrected, as well as I could, this great error of my youth. Our club was not at that time established at a ta.
We held our meetings at the house of Mr. Grace, who appropriated a room to the purpose. Some member observed, one day, that as our books were frequently quoted in the course of our discus. sions, it would be convenient to have them collected in the room in which we assembled, in order to be consulted upon occasion; and that, by thus forming a common library of our individual collections, each would have the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would nearly be the same as if he possessed them all himself. The idea was approved, and we accordingly brought such books as we thought we could spare, which were placed at the end of the club-room." They amounted not to so many as we expected; and though we made considerable use of them, yet some inconveniences resulting, from want of care, it was agreed, after about a year, to discontinue the collection; and each took away such books as belonged to him.
It was now that I first started the idea of establish: ing, by subscription, a public library. I drew
the proposals, had them engrossed in form by Brockden, the attorney, and my projeet succeeded, as will be seen in the sequel.
[The life of Dr. Franklin, as written by himself, so far as it has yet been communicated to the world, breaks off in this place. We understand that it was continued by him somewhat farther, and we hope that the remainder will, at some future period, be communicated to the public. We have no hesitation in supposing, that every reader will find himself greatly interested by the frank simplicity, and the philosophical discerninent by which these pages are so eminently characterized. We have therefore thought proper, in order, as much as possible, to relieve his regret, to subjoin the following continuation by one of the Doctor's intimate friends. It is extracted from an American periodical publication, and was written by the late Dr. Stuber,* of Philadelphia.
* Dr. Stuber was born in Philadelphia, of German parents. He was sent at an early age, to the university, where his genius, diligence, and amiable temper, soon acquired him the particular notice and favour of those under whose immediate direction he was placed. After passing through the common course of study, in a much shorter time than usual, he left the university, at the age of sixteen, with great reputation. Not long after, he entered on the study of physic; and the zeal with which he pursued it, and the advances he made, gave his friends reason to form the most flattering prospects of his future eminence and usefulness in his profession. As Dr. Stuber's circumstances were very moderate, he did not think this pursuit well calculated to answer thein. He therefore relinquished it, after he had obtain-d a degree in the profession, and qualified himself to practice with credit and success; and immediately entered on the study of the law. While in pursuit of the last-mentioned object, he was prevented, by a premature death, from reaping the fruit of those talents with which he was endowed, and of a youth spent in the ardent and successful pursuit of useful and elegant literature.