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grew impatient and sued us all. We gave bail, but saw that if the money could not be raised 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, offered
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 street, playing at low games in ale-houses, 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 remained 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 failed in their performance, and our partnership must be dissolved, 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? 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 further. 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 30 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 inclined 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 pounds he has advanced, pay my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and anew saddle; I will relinquish the partnership and leave the whole in your hands. I agreed to this proposal; it was drawn up in writing, signed and sealed immediately. I gave him what he demanded, and he went soon after to Carolina; 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, &c. for in those matters he was very judicious. I printed them in the papers, and they gave great satisfaction to the public.
As soon as he was gone, I recurred to my two friends; and because I would not give an unkind preference to either, I took half 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 opposed any addition; being against all paper currency, from the apprehension that it would depreciate as it had done in New England, to the injury of all creditors. We had discussed 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 when I first walked about the streets of Philadelphia, (eating my roll,) I saw many of the houses in Walnut Street, between Second and Front Streets, with bills on their doors " to be let;" and many likewise in Chesnut Street, and other streets; which made me think the inhabitants of the city were one after another deserting it. Our debates possessed 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 received by the common people in general; but the rich men disliked it, for it increased and strengthened the clamour for more money; and they happening to have no writers among them that were able to answer it, their opposition slackened, and the point was carried by a majority in the house. My friends there, who considered I had been of some service, thought fit to reward me, by employing me in printing the money; a very profitable job, and a great help to me. This was another advantage gained by my being able to write. <
The utility of this currency became by time and experience so evident, that the principles upon which it was founded, were never afterwards much disputed; so that it grew soon to fifty-five thousand pounds; and in 1739, to eighty thousand pounds! trade, building, and inhabitants all the while increasing. Though I now think there are limits beyond which the quantity may be hurtful.
I soon after obtained through my friend Hamilton, the printing of the New-Castle paper-money, another profitable job, 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. Mr. Hamilton procured me also the printing of the laws and votes of that government; which continued in my hands as long as I followed the business.
I now opened a small stationer's shop: I had in it blanks of all kinds; the correctest that ever appeared among us. I was assisted in that by my friend Breintnal: I had also paper, parchment, chapmen's books, &c. One Whitemash, a compositor I had known in London, an excellent workman, now came to me, and worked 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 reahty industrious and frugal, but to avoid the appearances to the contrary. I dressed plain, and was seen at no places of idle diversion: I never went out a fishing or shooting; a book indeed sometimes debauched me from my work, but that was seldom, was private, and gave no scandal: and to shew that I was not above my business, I sometimes brought home the paper I purchased at the Stores, through the streets on a wheelbarrow. Thus being esteemed an industrious, thriving young man, and paying duly for what I bought, the merchants who imported stationary solicited my custom ; others proposed supplying me with books, and I went on prosperously. In the mean time, Keimer's credit and business declining daily, he was at last forced 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 worked 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 proposed a partnership to him, which he fortunately for me rejected with scorn. He was very proud, dressed like a gentleman, lived 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 employed his former master as a journeyman; they quarrelled often, and Harry went continually behind hand, and at length was obliged to sell his types and return to country work in Pennsylvania. The person who bought them, employed Keimer to use them, but a few years after he died.
There remained now no other printer in Philadelphia, but the old Bradford; but he was rich and easy, did a little in the business by straggling hands, but was not anxious about it. However as he held the post-office, it was imagined he had better opportunities of obtaining news, his paper was thought a better distributor of advertisements than mine, and therefore had many more; which was a profitable thing to him, and a disadvantage to me. For though I did indeed receive and send papers by the post, yet the public 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 occasioned some resentment on my part; and I thought so meanly of the practice, that when I afterwards came into his situation I took care never to imitate it.
I had hitherto continued 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; though 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 ensued; the girl being in herself very deserving. The old folks encouraged me by continual invitations to supper, and by leaving us together, 'till at length it was time to explain. Mrs. Godfrey managed 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 enquiry of Bradford, they had been informed the printing-business was not a profitable one, the types would soon be worn out and more wanted; that Keimer and David 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 pleased, I know not. But I suspected the motive, resented it, and went no more. Mrs. Godfrey brought me afterwards some more favourable 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 differed, 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 looked 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 an one as I should not otherwise think agreeable. In the mean time that hard to be governed passion of youth, had hurried me frequently into intrigues with low women that fell in my way, which were attended with some expence 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 neighbours had continued between me and Miss 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 pitied 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 threat degree the cause of her unhappiness; though 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; that match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living in England; but this could not easily be proved, because of the distance, &c. and though there was a report of his death, it was not certain. Then, though it should be true, he had left many debts which his successor might be called upon to pay: we ventured however, over all these difficulties and I took her to wife, September 1, 1730. None of the inconveniences happened that we had apprehended; she proved a good and faithful helpmate, assisted me much by attending to the shop; we throve together, and ever mutually endeavoured 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 referred to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them all together where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we liked 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 liked and agreed to, and we filled one end of the room with such books as we could best spare. The number was not so great as we expected; and though 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