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tent to the functions of a country attorney; soon be- 1 years of maturity, and were married. I was the last came an essential personage in the affairs of the village; of the sons, and the youngest child, excepting two and was one of the chief movers of every public enter- daughters. I was born at Boston, in New England, on prise, as well relative to the county as the town of the 17th of January 1706.* My mother, the second Northampton. A variety of remarkable incidents were wife, was Abiah Folger, daughter of Peter Folger, one told us of him at Eaton. After enjoying the esteem of the first colonists of New England, of whom Cotton and patronage of Lord Halifax, he died January 6, Mather makes honourable mention, in his Ecclesiastical 1702, precisely four years before I was born. The History of that province, as “a pious and learned Engrecital that was made us of his life and character, by lishman,” if I rightly recollect his expressions. I have some aged persons of the village, struck you I remem- been told of his having written a variety of little pieces ; ber as extraordinary, from its analogy to what you but there appears to be only one in print, which I met knew of myself. “Had he died,” said you, “just four with many years ago. It was published in the year 1675, years later, one would have supposed a transmigration and is in familiar verse, agreeably to the taste of the of souls.”
times and the country. The author addresses himself John, to the best of my belief, was brought up to the to the governors for the time being, speaks for liberty trade of a wool-dyer. Benjamin served his apprentice- of conscience, and in favour of the anabaptists, quakers, ship in London to a silk-dyer. He was an industrious and other sectaries, who had suffered persecution. To man—I remember him well; for, while I was a child, this persecution he attributes the wars with the natives, he joined my father at Boston, and lived for some years and other calamities which afflicted the country, rein the house with us. A particular affection had always garding them as the judgments of God in punishment subsisted between my father and him; and I was his of so odious an offence, and he exhorts the government godson. He arrived to a great age. He left behind to the repeal of laws so contrary to charity. The poem him two quarto volumes of poems in manuscript, con- appeared to be written with a manly freedom and a sisting of little fugitive pieces addressed to his friends. pleasing simplicity. I recollect the six concluding lines, He had invented a short-hand, which he taught me, though I have forgotten the order of words of the two but, having never made use of it, I have now forgotten first; the sense of which was, that his censures were it. He was a man of piety, and a constant attendant dictated by benevolence, and that, of consequence, he on the best preachers, whose sermons he took a plea- wished to be known as the author; “because,” said he, sure in writing down according to the expeditory method "I hate from my very soul dissimulation.” he had devised. Many volumes were thus collected
From Sherburn, where I dwell, by him. He was also extremely fond of politics ; too
I therefore put my name; much so, perhaps, for his situation. I lately found in
Your friend, who means you well, London a collection which he had made of all the principal
Peter Folger. pamphlets relative to public affairs, from the year 1641 My brothers were all put apprentices to different to 1717. Many volumes are wanting, as appears by the trades. With respect to myself, I was sent at the age series of numbers; but there still remain eight in folio, of eight years, to a gramniar-school. My father desand twenty-four in quarto and octavo. The collection tined me for the church, and already regarded me as the had fallen into the hands of a second-hand bookseller, chaplain of the family. The promptitude with which who, knowing me by having sold me some books, brought from my infancy I had learned to read—for I do not it to me. My uncle, it seems, had left it behind him remember to have been ever without this acquirementon his departure for America, about fifty years ago. I and the encouragement of his friends, who assured him found various notes of his writing in the margins. His that I should one day certainly become a man of letters, grandson, Samuel, is now living at Boston.
confirmed him in this design. My uncle Benjamin apOur humble family had early embraced the principles proved also of the scheme, and promised to give me all of the Reformation. They remained faithfully attached his volumes of sermons, written as I have said in the during the reign of Queen Mary, when they were in short-hand of his invention, if I would take the pains danger of being molested on account of their zeal to learn it. against popery. They had an English Bible, and to
I remained, however, scarcely a year at the grammarconceal it the more securely, they conceived the project school, although in this short interval I had risen from of fastening it open, with pack-threads across the the middle to the head of my class, from thence to the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a homely domestic class immediately above, and was to pass, at the end utensil. When my grandfather wished to read to his of the year, to the one next in order. But my father, family, he reversed the lid of the utensil upon his burdened with a numerous family, found that he was knees, and passed the leaves from one side to the other, incapable, without subjecting himself to difficulties, of which were held down on each by the pack-thread. providing for the expenses of a collegiate education; One of the children was stationed at the door, to give and considering, besides, as I heard him say to his notice if he saw the proctor (an officer of the spiritual friends, that persons so educated were often poorly court) make his appearance ; in that case, the lid was provided for, he renounced his first intentions, took me restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under it from the grammar-school, and sent me to a school for as before. I had this anecdote from my uncle Benja- writing and arithmetic, kept by a Mr George Brownmin.
well, who was a skilful master, and succeeded very The whole family preserved its attachment to the well in his profession by employing gentle means only, Church of England till towards the close of the reign of Charles II., when certain ministers, who had been *[Boston is the capital of the state of Massachusetts, and the rejected as nonconformists, having held conventicles largest town in New England, 210 miles north-east of New York, in Northamptonshire, they were joined by Benjamin and 300 miles north-east of Philadelphia. It is situated at the and Josias, who adhered to them ever after. The rest bottom of Massachusetts bay, at the mouth of the Charles river, of the family continued in the episcopal church, and stands principally on a small peninsula of elevated ground,
My father, Josias, married early in life. He went, which is connected with the continent by a narrow neck of land with his wife and three children, to New England, and several bridges. The town was begun in 1630, principally by about the year 1682. Conventicles being at that time the settlement of religious and political refugees, or pilgrims, prohibited by law and frequently disturbed, some con
from England; and to one of these classes of settlers Franklin's siderable persons of his acquaintance determined to go
father seems to have belonged. The stern inflexibility of printo America, where they hoped to enjoy the free exer- ciple of the founders of the city has always characterised its
inhabitants. At the time of Franklin's birth, the number of cise of their religion, and my father was prevailed on
inhabitants was about 10,000; in 1829 they amounted to 60,000 to accompany them.
which shows a small increase in comparison with most other My father had also, by the same wife, four children American towns. It has for a number
of years enjoyed the reborn in America, and ten others by a second wife,putation of being the chief mart of literature in the United making in all seventeen. I remember to have seen States. A considerable number of newspapers and other periothirteen scated together at his table, who all arrived at l dical publications issue from its press.]
and such as were calculated to encourage his scholars. | table, never discussed whether they were well or ill Under him I soon acquired an excellent hand ; but I dressed, of a good or bad flavour, high seasoned, or failed in arithmetic, and made therein no sort of pro- otherwise, preferable or inferior to this or that dish of gress.
a similar kind. Thus accustomed, from my infancy, to At ten years of age, I was called home to assist my the utmost inattention as to these objects, I have been father in his occupation, which was that of soap-boiler perfectly regardless of what kind of food was before and tallow-chandler--a business to which he had served me; and I pay so little attention to it even now, that no apprenticeship, but which he embraced on his arri- it would be a hard matter for me to recollect, a few val in New England, because he found his own—that of hours after I had dined, of what my dinner had condyer-in too little request to enable him to maintain sisted. When travelling, I have particularly experihis family. I was accordingly employed in cutting the enced the advantage of this habit ; for it has often wicks, filling the moulds, taking care of the shop, car- happened to me to be in company with persons, who, rying messages, &c.
having a more delicate, because a more exercised taste, This business displeased me, and I felt a strong in- have suffered in many cases considerable inconvenience, clination for a sea life; but my father set his face while, as to myself, I have had nothing to desire. against it. The vicinity of the water, however, gave My mother was likewise possessed of an excellent me frequent opportunities of venturing myself both constitution. She suckled all her ten children, and I upon and within it, and I soon acquired the art of never heard either her or my father complain of any swimming, and of managing a boat. When embarked other disorder than that of which they died: my father with other children, the helm was commonly deputed at the age of eighty-seven, and my mother at eightyto me, particularly on difficult occasions; and, in every five. They are buried together at Boston, where, a other project, I was almost always the leader of the few years ago, I placed a marble over their grave, with troop, whom I sometimes involved in embarrassments. this inscription : I shall give an instance of this, which demonstrates an “ Here lie Josias FRANKLIN and Abiah his wife. They carly disposition of mind for public enterprises, though lived together with reciprocal affection for fifty-nine the one in question was not conducted by justice. years; and without private fortune, without lucrative
The mill pond was terminated on one side by a marsh, employment, by assiduous labour and honest industry, upon the borders of which we were accustomed to take decently supported a numerous family, and educated our stand, at high water, to angle for small fish. By with success thirteen children and seven grandchildint of walking, we had converted the place into a per- dren. Let this example, reader, encourage thee dilifect quagmire. My proposal was to erect a wharf that gently to discharge the duties of thy calling, and to should afford us firm footing; and I pointed out to my rely on the support of Divine Providence. He was companions a large heap of stones, intended for the pious and prudent; she discreet and virtuous. Their building a new house near the marsh, and which were youngest son, from a sentiment of filial duty, consewell adapted for our purpose. Accordingly, when the crates this stone to their memory." workmen retired in the evening, I assembled a number I perceive, by my rambling digressions, that I am of my play-fellows, and by labouring diligently, like growing old. But we do not dress for a private comants, sometimes four of us uniting our strength to carry pany as for a formal ball. This deserves, perhaps, the a single stone, we removed them all, and constructed name of negligence. our little quay. The workmen were surprised the next To return to my own narrative. I continued emmorning at not finding their stones, which had been ployed in my father's trade for the space of two years; conveyed to our wharf. Inquiries were made respecting that is to say, till I arrived at twelve years of age. the authors of this conveyance; we were discovered; About this time my brother John, who had served his complaints were exhibited against us ; and many of us apprenticeship in London, having quitted my father, underwent correction on the part of our parents ;-and and being married and settled in business on his own though I strenuously defended the utility of the work, account at Rhode Island, I was destined, to all appearmy father at length convinced me, that nothing which ance, to supply his place, and be a candlemaker all my was not strictly honest could be useful.
life : but my dislike of this occupation continuing, my It will not, perhaps, be uninteresting to you to know father was apprehensive, that if a more agreeable one what sort of a man my father was. He had an excel were not offered me, I might play the truant and escape lent constitution, was of a middle size, but well made to sea; as, to his extreme mortification, my brother and strong, and extremely active in whatever he un- Josias had done. He therefore took me sometimes to dertook. He designed with a degree of neatness, and see masons, coopers, braziers, joiners, and other mechaknew a little of music. His voice was sonorous and nics, employed at their work, in order to discover the agreeable ; so that when he sung a psalm or hymn, bent of my inclination, and fix it if he could upon some with the accompaniment of his violin, as was his fre- occupation that might retain me on shore. I have quent practice in an evening, when the labours of the since, in consequence of these visits, derived no small day were finished, it was truly delightful to hear him. pleasure from seeing skilful workmen handle their tools; He was versed also in mechanics, and could, upon oc- and it has proved of considerable benefit, to have accasion, use the tools of a variety of trades. But his quired thereby sufficient knowledge to be able to make greatest excellence was a sound understanding and solid little things for myself, when I have had no mechanic judgment in matters of prudence, both in public and at hand, and to construct small machines for my exprivate life. In the former indeed he never engaged, periments, while the idea I have conceived has been because his numerous family, and the mediocrity of his fresh and strongly impressed on my imagination. fortune, kept him unremittingly employed in the duties My father at length decided that I should be a cutler, of his profession. But I well remember that the leading and I was placed for some days upon trial with my men of the place used frequently to come and ask his cousin Samuel, son of my uncle Benjamin, who had advice respecting the affairs of the town, or of the learned this trade in London, and had established himchurch to which he belonged, and that they paid much self at Boston. But the premium he required for my deference to his opinion. Individuals were also in the apprenticeship displeasing my father, I was recalled habit of consulting him in their private affairs, and he home. was often chosen arbiter between contending parties. From my earliest years I had been passionately fond
He was fond of having at his table, as often as pos- of reading ; and I had laid out in books all the money sible, some friends or well-informed neighbours, capable I could procure. I was particularly pleased with acof rational conversation; and he was always careful to counts of voyages. My first acquisition was Bunyan's introduce useful or ingenious topics of discourse, which collection in small separate volumes. These I aftermight tend to form the minds of his children. By this wards sold, in order to buy an historical collection by means he early attracted our attention to what was R. Burton, which consisted of small cheap volume just, prudent, and beneficial in the conduct of life. He amounting in all to about forty or fifty. My father's never talked of the meats which appeared upon the little library was principally made up of books of prac.
tical and polemical theology. I read the greatest part | lawyers, fellows of universities, and persons of every of them. I have since often regretted that at a time profession educated at Edinburgh, excepted. when I had so great a thirst for knowledge, more Collins and I fell one day into an argument relative eligible books had not fallen into my hands, as it was to the education of women ; namely, whether it was then a point decided that I should not be educated for proper to instruct them in the sciences, and whether the church. There was also among my father's books they were competent to the study. Collins supported Plutarch's Lives, in which I read continually, and I the negative, and affirmed that the task was beyond still regard as advantageously employed the time I de- their capacity ; I maintained the opposite opinion, a voted to them. I found besides a work of De Foe's, little perhaps for the pleasure of disputing. He was entitled an Essay on Projects, from which, perhaps, I naturally more eloquent than I ; words flowed copiderived impressions that have since influenced some of ously from his lips and frequently I thought myself the principal events of my life.
vanquished, more by his volubility than by the force My inclination for books at last determined my father of his argument. We separated without coming to an to make me a printer, though he had already a son in agreement upon this point; and as we were not to see that profession. My brother had returned from Eng- each other again for some time, I committed my land in 1717 with a press and types, in order to esta- thoughts to paper, made a fair copy, and sent it to him. blish a printing-house at Boston. This business pleased He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters had me much better than that of my father, though I had been written by each, when my father chanced to light still a predilection for the sea. To prevent the effects upon my papers and read them. Without entering which might result from this inclination, my father into the merits of the cause, he embraced the opporwas impatient to see me engaged with my brother. I tunity of speaking to me upon my manner of writing. held back for some time; at length, however, I suffered He observed, that though I had the advantage of my myself to be persuaded, and signed my indentures, being adversary in correct spelling and pointing, which I owed then only twelve years of age. It was agreed that I to my occupation, I was greatly his inferior in elegance should serve as apprentice to the age of twenty-one, of expression, in arrangement, and perspicuity. Of and should receive journeyman's wages only during the this he convinced me by several examples. I felt the
justice of his remarks, became more attentive to lanIn a very short time I made great proficiency in this guage, and resolved to make every effort to improve business, and became very serviceable to my brother. my style. I had now an opportunity of procuring better books. Amidst these resolves an odd volume of the Spectator The acquaintance I necessarily formed with booksellers' fell into my hands. This was a publication I had liever apprentices, enabled me to borrow a volume now and seen. I bought the volume, and read it again and then, which I never failed to return punctually and again. I was enchanted with it, thought the style exwithout injury. How often has it happened to me to cellent, and wished it were in my power to imitate it pass the greater part of the night in reading by my With this view I selected some of the papers, made bedside, when the book had been lent me in the even- short summaries of the sense of each period, and put ing, and was to be returned the next morning, lest it them for a few days aside. I then, without looking at might be missed or wanted.
the book, endeavoured to restore the essays to their At length Mr Matthew Adams, an ingenious trades- due form, and to express each thought at length, as it man, who had a handsome collection of books, and who was in the original, employing the most appropriate frequented our printing-house, took notice of me. He words that occurred to my mind. I afterward com. invited me to see his library, and had the goodness to pared my Spectator with the original ; I perceived lend me any books I was desirous of reading. I then some faults, which I corrected : but I found that I took a strange fancy for poetry, and composed several wanted a fund of words, if I may so express myself, little pieces. My brother, thinking he might find his and a facility of recollecting and employing them, account in it, encouraged me, and engaged me to write which I thought I should by that time have acquired, two ballads. One, called The Light-house Tragedy, had I continued to make verses. The continual need contained an account of the shipwreck of Captain Wor- of words of the same meaning, but of different lengths thilake and his two daughters; the other was a sailor's for the measure, or of different sounds for the rhyme, song on the capture of the noted pirate called Teach, would have obliged me to seek for a variety of synoor Black-beard. They were wretched verses in point of nymes, and have rendered me master of them. From style-mere blind-men's ditties. When printed, he dis- this belief, I took some of the tales of the Spectator and patched me about the town to sell them. The first turned them into verse ; and, after a time, when I had had a prodigious run, because the event was recent, sufficiently forgotten them, I again converted them into and had made a great noise.
prose. My vanity was flattered by this success; but my Sometimes, also, I mingled all my summaries tofather checked my exultation, by ridiculing my pro- gether; and, a few weeks after, endeavoured to arrange ductions, and telling me that versifiers were always them in the best order, before I attempted to form the poor. I thus escaped the misfortune of being a very periods and complete the essays. This I did with a wretched poet. But as the faculty of writing prose has view of acquiring method in the arrangement of my been of great service to me in the course of my life, thoughts. On comparing afterwards my performance and principally contributed to my advancement, I shall with the original, many faults were apparent, which I relate by what means, situated as I was, I acquired the corrected ; but I had sometimes the satisfaction to small skill I may possess in that way.
think, that, in certain particulars of little importance, There was in the town another young man, a great I had been fortunate enough to improve the order of lover of books, of the name of John Collins, with whom thought or the style ; and this encouraged me to hope I was intimately connected. We frequently engaged that I should succeed, in time, in writing decently in in dispate, and were indeed so fond of argumentation, the English language, which was one of the great obthat nothing was so agreeable to us as a war of words. jects of my ambition. This contentious temper, I would observe by the bye, The time which I devoted to these exercises, and to is in danger of becoming a very bad habit, and fre- reading, was the evening after my day's labour was quently renders a man's company insupportable, as finished, the morning before it began, and Sundays being no otherwise capable of indulgence than by an when I could escape attending divine service. While indiscriminate contradiction, independently of the ac- I lived with my father, he had insisted on my punctual rimony and discord it introduces into conversation ; attendance on public worship, and I still indeed conand is often productive of dislike, and even hatred, sidered it as a duty, but a duty which I thought I had between persons to whom friendship is indispensably no time to practise. necessary. I acquired it by reading, while I lived with When about sixteen years of age, a work of Tryon my father, books of religious controversy. I have since fell into my hands, in which he recommends vegetable remarked, that men of sense seldom fall into this error; diet. I determined to observe it. My brother being a
APPRENTICED AS A PRINTER.
7 bachelor, did not keep house, but boarded with his ap- occasion to impress my opinion on the minds of others, prentices in a neighbouring family. My refusing to eat and persuade them to the adoption of the measures I animal food was found inconvenient, and I was often have suggested. And since the chief ends of converscolded for my singularity. I attended to the mode in sation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to which Tryon prepared some of his dishes, particularly persuade, I could wish that intelligent and well-meanhow to boil potatoes and rice, and make hasty-puddings. ing men would not themselves diminish the power they I then said to my brother, that if he would allow me per possess of being useful, by a positive and presumptuous week half what he paid for my board, I would undertake manner of expressing themselves, which scarcely ever to maintain myself. The offer was instantly embraced, fails to disgust the hearer, and is only calculated to and I soon found that of what he gave me I was able to excite opposition, and defeat every purpose for which save half. This was a new fund for the purchase of the faculty of speech has been bestowed on man. In books: and other advantages resulted to me from the short, if you wish to inform, a positive and dogmatical plan. When my brother and his workmen left the manner of advancing your opinion may provoke conprinting-house to go to dinner, I remained behind; and tradiction, and prevent your being heard with attention. dispatching my frugal meal, which frequently consisted on the other hand, if, with a desire of being informed, of a biscuit only, or a slice of bread and a bunch of rai- and of benefiting by the knowledge of others, you exsins, or a bun from the pastry-cook’s, with a glass of press yourself as being strongly attached to your own water, I had the rest of the time, till their return, for opinions, modest and sensible men, who do not love study; and my progress therein was proportioned to disputation, will leave you in tranquil possession of your that clearness of ideas, and quickness of conception, errors. By following such a method, you can rarely which are the fruit of temperance in eating and drinking. hope to please your auditors, conciliate their good-will,
It was about this period that, having one day been put or work conviction on those whom you may be desirto the blush for my ignorance in the art of calculation, ous of gaining over to your views. Pope judiciously which I had twice failed to learn while at school, I took observes— Cocker's Treatise of Arithmetic, and went through it Men must be taught as if you taught them not, myself with the utmost ease. I also read a book of And things unknown proposed as things forgot. Navigation by Seller and Sturmy, and made myself And in the same poem he afterward advises us master of the little geometry it contains, but I never
To speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence. proceeded far in this science. Nearly at the same time I read Locke on the Human Understanding, and the He might have added to these lines, one that he has Art of Thinking by Messrs du Port Royal.
coupled elsewhere, in my opinion, with less propriety.
It is this : While labouring to form and improve my style, I met with an English Grammar, which I believe was
For want of modesty is want of sense. Greenwood's, having at the end of it two little essays If you ask why I say with less propriety, I must give on rhetoric and logic. In the latter I found a model you the two lines together : of disputation after the manner of Socrates. Shortly
Immodest words admit of no defence, after, I procured Xenophon's work, entitled Memorable
For want of decency is want of sense. Things of Socrates, in which are various examples of Now, want of sense, when a man has the misfortune to the same method. "Charmed to a degree of enthusiasm be so circumstances, is it not a kind of excuse for want with this mode of disputing, I adopted it, and renounc-of modesty? And would not the verses have been more ing blunt contradiction, and direct and positive argu accurate, if they had been constructed thus : ment, I assumed the character of an humble questioner.*
Immodest words admit but this defenceThe perusal of Shaftesbury and Collins had made me
The want of decency is want of sense. doubtful of various points of a religious nature; and But I leave the decision of this to better judges than I found Socrates's method of argument to be both the safest for myself, as well as the most embarrassing to myself. In 1720, or 1721, my brother began to print those against whom I employed it. It soon afforded a new public paper. It was the second that made its me singular pleasure ; I incessantly practised it ; and appearance in America, and was entitled the “ New became very adroit in obtaining, even from persons of England Courant." The only one that existed before superior understanding, concessions of which they did was the “ Boston News Letter.” Some of his friends, not foresee the consequence. Thus I involved them in I remember, would have dissuaded him from his underdifficulties from which they were unable to extricate taking, as a thing that was not likely to succeed ; a themselves, and sometimes obtained victories which all America. At present, however, in 1771, there are
single newspaper being in their opinion sufficient for neither my cause nor my arguments merited. This method I continued to employ for some years; into execution, and I was employed in distributing the
no less than twenty-five.* But he carried his project but I afterwards abandoned it by degrees, retaining only copies
to his customers, after having assisted in comthe habit of expressing myself with modest diffidence; posing and working them off. and never making use, when I advanced any proposition which might be controverted, of the words certainly, racters, who, as an amusement, wrote short essays for
Among his friends he had a number of literary chaundoubtedly, or any others that might give the appear, the paper, which gave it reputation and increased the ance of being obstinately attached to my opinion. I sale. These gentlemen frequently came to our house. rather said, I imagine, I suppose, or, it appears to me, I heard the conversation that passed, and the accounts that such a thing is so or so, for such and such reasons; they gave of the favourable reception of their writings or, it is so,
if I am not mistaken. This habit has, I think; with the public. I was tempted to try my hand among been of considerable advantage to me, when I have had them ; but, being still a child as it were, I was fearful
that my brother might be unwilling to print in his *(Socrates was an eminent Grecian philosopher and instructor paper any performance of which he should know me to of youth, who flourished about 430 years before Christ. Xeno-be the author. I therefore contrived to disguise my phon was one of his pupils and admirers. The system of reasoning or arguing which Socrates introduced, and which is known it at night under the door of the printing-house, where
hand, and, having written an anonymous piece, I placed by the name of the Socratic method, consisted in his affecting to it was found the next morning. My brother commuknow nothing of the point in dispute, and interrogating his opponent as if for instruction, until, by question after question, he led nicated it to his friends, when they came as usual to him either into gross inconsistency, or to overturn his own argu
see him, who read it, commented upon it within my ment by his replies. This ironical mode of argument is too favour- hearing; and I had the exquisite pleasure to find that allo to the questioner to be fair, and is better calculated to confuso it met with their approbation, and that in their vari. an adversary than to elicit truth. In all likelihood, Socrates would never leave the question in the condition to which he brought it *[In 1828, the number of newspapers published in the United by his quories, but would conclude as a judge by summing up all, States was 802, the aggregato circulation of which annually was and making his auditors sensible of the right and wrong of the 55,000,000 of sheets; being a third more than was published in argument.]
Great Britain and Ireland)
PROCEEDS TO PHILADELPHIA. ous conjectures they made respecting the author, no treatment of me, my brother was by no means a man one was mentioned who did not enjoy a high reputation of an ill temper, and perhaps my manners had too much in the country for talents and genius. I now supposed impertinence not to afford it a very natural pretext. myself fortunate in my judges, and began to suspect that they were not such excellent writers as I had
PROCEEDS TO PHILADELPHIA. hitherto supposed them. Be this as it may, encouraged by this little adventure, I wrote and sent to press, in When my brother knew that it was my determination the same way, many other pieces, which were equally to quit him, he wished to prevent my finding employ. approved; keeping the secret till my slender stock of ment elsewhere. He went to all the printing-houses information and knowledge for such performances was in the town, and prejudiced the masters against me: pretty completely exhausted, when I made myself who accordingly refused to employ me. The idea then known.
suggested itself to me of going to New York, the nearest My brother, upon this discovery, began to entertain town in which there was a printing-office. Farther a little more respect for me; but he still regarded reflection confirmed me in the design of leaving Boston. himself as my master, and treated me as an apprentice. where I had already rendered myself an object of sus. He thought himself entitled to the same services from picion to the governing party. It was probable, from me as from any other person. On the contrary, I con- the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in the affair ceived that in many instances he was too rigorous, and of my brother, that, by remaining, I should soon have that, on the part of a brother, I had a right to expect been exposed to difficulties, which I had the greater greater indulgence. Our disputes were frequently reason to apprehend, as, from my indiscreet disputes brought before my father; and either my brother was upon the subject of religion, I began to be regarded by generally in the wrong, or I was the better pleader of the pious souls with horror, either as an apostate or an two, for judgment was commonly given in my favour. atheist. I came therefore to a resolution : but my But my brother was passionate, and often had recourse father siding with my brother, I presumed that if I to blows-a circumstance which I took in very ill part. attempted to depart openly, measures would be taken This severe and tyrannical treatment contributed, I to prevent me. My friend Collins undertook to favour believe, to imprint on my mind that aversion to arbi- my flight. He agreed for my passage with the Captain trary power, which, during my whole life, I have ever of a New York sloop, to whom he represented me as preserved. My apprenticeship became insupportable a young man of his acquaintance, who had an affair to me, and I continually sighed for an opportunity of with a girl of bad character, whose parents wished to shortening it, which at length unexpectedly offered. compel me to marry her, and of consequence I could
An article inserted in our paper, upon some political neither make my appearance, nor go off publicly. I subject which I have now forgotten, gave offence to sold part of my books to procure a small sum of money, the Assembly. My brother was taken into custody, and went privately on board the sloop. By favour of censured, and ordered into confinement for a month, a good wind, I found myself in three days at New York because, as I presume, he would not discover the author. (1723), more than two hundred miles from my home, I was also taken up, and examined before the council; at the
age only of seventeen years, without knowing an but, though I gave them no satisfaction, they contented individual in the place, and with very little money in theinselves with reprimanding, and then dismissed me; my pocket. considering me probably as bound, in quality of ap- The inclination I had felt for a scafaring life was prentice, to keep my master's secrets.
entirely subsided, or I should now have been able to The imprisonment of my brother kindled my resent- gratify it; but, having another trade, and believing i ment, notwithstanding our private quarrels. During myself to be a tolerable workman, I hesitated not to its continuance the management of the paper was en- offer my services to the old Mr William Bradford, who trusted to me, and I was bold enough to insert some had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but had pasquinades against the governors, which highly pleased quitted the province on account of a quarrel with my brother, while others began to look upon me in an George Keith, the governor. He could not give me unfavourable point of view, considering me as a young employment himself, having little to do, and already wit, inclined to satire and lampoon.
as many persons as he wanted ; but he told me that My brother's enlargement was accompanied with his son, printer at Philadelphia, had lately lost his prinan arbitrary order from the House of the Assembly, cipal workman, Aquila Rose, who was dead, and that, “ That James Franklin should no longer print the news- if I would go thither, he believed that he would engage paper entitled the New England Courant.'”
In this me.
Philadelphia was a hundred miles farther. I conjuncture, we held a consultation of our friends at hesitated not to embark in a boat, in order to repair, the printing-house, in order to determine what was to by the shortest cut of the sea, to Amboy, leaving my be done. Some proposed to evade the order, by chang- trunk and effects to come after me by the usual and ing the title of the paper : but my brother, foreseeing more tedious conveyance. In crossing the bay we met inconveniences that would result from this step, thought with a squall, whichi shattered to pieces our rotten sails, it better that it should in future be printed in the name prevented us from entering the Kill, and threw us of Benjamin Franklin ; and, to avoid the censure of upon Long Island. the Assembly, who might charge him with still printing During the squall, a drunken Dutchman, who like the paper himself, under the name of his apprentice, it myself was a passenger in the boat, fell into the sea. was resolved that my old indentures should be given at the moment he was sinking, I seized him by the up to me, with a full and entire discharge written on fore-top, saved him, and drew him on board. This the back, in order to be produced upon an emergency : immersion sobered him a little, so that he fell asleep, but that, to secure to my brother the benofit of my ser- after having taken from his pocket a volume which he vice, I should sign a new contract, which should be requested me to dry. This volume I found to be my kept secret during the remainder of the term. This old favourite work, Bunyan's Pilgrim, in Dutch, a was a very shallow arrangement. It was, however, beautiful impression on fine paper, with copperplate carried into immediate execution, and the paper con- engravings-a dress in which I had never seen it in tinued, in consequence, to make its appearance for some its original language. I have since learned that it has months in my name. At length, a new difference aris- been translated into almost all the languages of Europe, ing between my brother and me, I ventured to take and, next to the Bible, I am persuaded it is one of the advantage of my liberty, presuming that he would not books that has had the greatest spread. Honest John dare to produce the new contract. It was undoubtedly is the first that I know of who has mixed narrative dishonourable to avail myself of this circumstance, and and dialogue together-a mode of writing very engaging I reckon this action as one of the first errors of my life ; to the reader, who, in the most interesting passages, but I was little capable of estimating it at its true value, finds himself admitted as it were into the company, and embittered as my mind had been by the recollection of present at the conversation. De Foe has imitated it the blows I had received. Exclusively of his passionate with success in his Robinson Crusoe, his Moll Flanders,