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He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words so perfectly that he might be heard and understood at a great distance; especially as his auditories observed the most perfect silence. He preached 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 filled 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 obscured it. Imagining then a semicircle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it was filled with auditors, to each of whom I allowed two square feet; I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand. This reconciled me to the newspaper accounts of his having preached to 25,000 people in the fields, and to the history of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.
By hearing him often I came to distinguish easily between sermons newly composed, and those which he had often preached in the course of his travels. His delivery of the latter was so improved by frequent repetition, that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of voice, was so perfectly well-turned and wellplaced, that without being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleased with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that received from an excellent piece of music. This is an advantage itinerant preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter cannot 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 explained or qualified, by supposing others that might have accompanied them; or they might have been denied; but litera scripta manet: critics attacked his writings violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to diminish the number of his votaries and prevent their increase. So that I am satisfied that 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 still growing even after his death; as there being nothing of his writing on which to found a censure, and give him a lower character, his proselytes would be left at liberty to attribute to him as great a variety of excellencies, as their enthusiastic admiration might wish him to have possessed.
My business was now constantly augmenting, and my circumstances growing daily easier, my newspaper having become very profitable, as being for a time almost the only one in this and the neighbouring provinces. I experienced too the truth of the observation, " that after getting the first hundred pounds it is more easy to get the second:" money itself being of a prolific nature.
The partnership at Carolina having succeeded, I was encouraged to engage in others, and to promote several of my workmen who had behaved well, by establishing them with printing houses in different colonies, on the same terms with that in Carolina. Most of them did well, being enabled at the end of our term, (six years,) to purchase the types of me and go on working for themselves; by which means several families were raised. Partnerships often finish in quarrels, but I was happy in this that mine were all carried on and ended amicably; owing I think a good deal to the precaution of having very explicitly settled in our articles, every thing to be done by or expected from each partner; so that there was nothing to dispute; which precaution I would therefore recommend to all who enter into partnerships; for whatever esteem partners may have for, and confidence in each other at the time of the contract, little jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas of inequality in the care and burthen, business, &c, which are attended often with breach of friendship and of the connection; perhaps with lw suits and other disagreeable consequences.
I had on the whole abundant reason to be satisfied with my being established in Pennsylvania; there were however some things that I regretted, there being no provision for defense, nor for a complete education of youth; no militia, nor any college: I therefore in 1743 drew up a proposal for establishing an academy; and at that time, thinking the Rev. Richard Peters, who was out of employ, a fit person to superintend such an institution, I communicated the project to him: but he having more profitable views in the service of the proprietors, which succeeded, declined the undertaking: and not knowing another at that time suitable for such a trust, I let the scheme lie awhile dormant . I succeeded better the next year 1744, in proposing and establishing a Philosophical Society. The paper I wrote for that purpose, will be found among my writings; if not lost with many others.
With respect to defence, Spain having been several years at war against Great Britain, and being at length joined by France, which brought us into great danger; and the labored and long continued endeavour of our Governor, Thomas, to prevail with our Quaker assembly to pass a militia law, and make other provisions for the security of the province, having proved abortive; I proposed to try what might be done by a voluntary subscription of the people: to promote this, I first wrote and published a pamphlet, intitled Plain Truth, in which I stated our helpless situation in strong lights, with the necessity of union and discipline for our defence, and promised to propose in a few days, an association, to be generally signed for that purpose. The pamphlet had a sudden and surprizing effect. I was called upon for the instrument of association; having settled the draught of it with a few friends, I appointed a meeting of the citizens in the large building before mentioned. The house was pretty full; I had prepared a number of printed copies, and provided pens and ink dispersed all over the room. I harangued them a little on the subject, read the paper, explained it, and then distributed the copies, which were eagerly signed, not the least objection being made. When the company separated, and the papers were collected, we found above twelve hundred signatures; and other copies being dispersed in the country, the subscribers amounted at length to upwards of ten thousand. These all furnished themselves as soon as they could with arms, formed themselves into companies, and regiments, chose their own officers, and met every week to be instructed in the manual exercise, and other parts of military discipline. The women, by subscriptions among themselves, provided silk colours, which they presented to the companies painted with different devices and mottos, which I supplied. The officers of the companies composing the Philadelphia regiment, being met, chose me for their colonel; but conceiving myself unfit, I declined that station, and recommended Mr. Lawrence, a fine person, and a man of influence, who was accordingly appointed. I then proposed a lottery to defray the expense of building a battery below the town, and furnished with cannon: it filled expeditiously and the battery was soon erected, the merlons being framed of logs and filled with earth. We bought some old cannon from Boston, but these not being sufficient, we wrote to London for more; soliciting at the sain etime our proprietaries for some assistance, though without much expectation of obtaining it. Meanwhile,
colonel Lawrence, Allen, Abraham Taylor esquires and myself, were sent to
New-York by the associators, commissioned to borrow some cannon of Governor Clinton. He at first refused us peremptorily; but at a dinner with his council where there was great drinking of madeira wine, as the custom of that place then was, he softened by degrees, and said he would lend us six. After a few more bumpers he advanced to ten; and at length he very good-naturedly conceded eighteen. They were fine cannon, 18 pounders, with their carriages, which were soon transported and mounted on our batteries, where the associators kept a nightly guard while the war lasted: and among the rest, I regularly took my turn of duty there, as a common soldier.
My activity in these operations was agreeable to the Governor and council; they Vol. I. M
took me into confidence, and I was consulted by them in every measure, where their concurrence was thought useful to the association. Calling in the aid of religion, I proposed to them the proclaiming a fast, to promote reformation, and implore the blessing of heaven on our undertaking. They embraced the motion, but as it was the first fast ever thought of in the province, the secretary had no precedent from which to draw the proclamation. My education in New-England, where a fast is proclaimed every year, was here of some advantage: I drew it in the accustomed style, it was translated into German, printed in both languages and circulated through the province. This gave the clergy of the different sects an opportunity of influencing their congregations to join in the association, and it would probably have been general among all but the Quakers, if the peace had not soon intervened.
It was thought by some of my friends, that by my activity in these affairs, I should offend that sect, and thereby lose my interest in the assembly of the province, where they formed a great majority. A young man who had likewise some friends in the assembly and wished to succeed me as their clerk, acquainted me that it was decided to displace me at the next election; and he through good will advised me to resign, as more consistent with my honor than being turned out. My answer to him was, that I had read or heard of some public man, who made it a rule, never to ask for an office, and never to refuse one when offered to him. I approve, said I, of this rule, and shall practise it with a small addition; I shall never ask, never refuse, nor ever Resign an office. If they will have my office of clerk to dispose of it to another, they shall take it from me. I will not by giving it up, lose my right of some time or other making reprisal on my adversaries. I heard however no more of this; I was chosen again unanimously as clerk at the next election. Possibly as they disliked my late intimacy with the members of council who had joined the Governors in all the disputes about military preparations, with which the house had long been harassed, they might have been pleased if I would voluntarily have left them; but they did not care to displace me on account merely of my zeal for the association, and they could not well give another reason. Indeed I had some cause to believe that the defence of the country was not disagreeable to any of them, provided they were not required to assist in it And I found that a much greater number of them than I could have imagined, though against offensive war, were clearly for the defensive. Many pamphlets pro and con were published on the subject, and some by good Quakers, in favor of defence; which I believe convinced most of their young people. A transaction in our fire company gave me some insight into their prevailing sentiments. It had been proposed that we should encourage the scheme for building a battery by laying out the present stock, then about sixty pounds, in tickets of the lottery. By our rules no money could be disposed of 'till the next meeting after the proposal. The company consisted of thirty members, of which twenty-two were Quakers, and eight only of other persuasions. We eight punctually attended the meeting; but though we thought that some of the Quakers would join us, we were by no means sure of a majority. Only one Quaker, Mr. James Morris, appeared to oppose the measure. He expressed much sorrow that it had ever been proposed, as he said friends were all against it, and it would create such discord as might break up the company. We told him that we saw no reason for that; we were the minority, and if friends were against the measure, and out-voted us, we must and should, agreeable to the usage of all societies, submit. When the hour for business arrived, it was moved to put this to the vote: he allowed we might do it by the rules, but as he could assure us that a number of members intended to be present for the purpose of opposing it, it would be but candid to allow a little time for their appearing. While we were disputing this, a waiter came to tell me, two gentlemen below desired to speak with me; I went down, and found there two of our Quaker members. They told me there were eight of them assembled at a tavern just by; that they were determined to come and vote with us if there should be occasion, which they hoped would not be the case, and desired we would not call for their assistance, if we could do without it; as their voting for such a measure might embroil them with their elders and friends: being thus secure of a majority, I went up and after a little seeming hesitation, agreed to a delay of another hour. This Mr. Morris allowed to be extremely fair. Not one of his opposing friends appeared, at which he expressed great surprise; and at the expiration of the hour, we carried the resolution eight to one: and as of the 22 Quakers, 8 were ready to vote with us, and 13 by their absence manifested that they were not inclined to oppose the measure, I afterwards estimated the proportion of Quakers sincerely against defence as 1 to 21 only. For these were all regular members of the society, and in good reputation among them, and who had notice of what was proposed at that meeting.
The honorable and learned Mr. Logan, who had always been of that sect, wrote an address to them declaring his approbation of defensive war, and supported his opinion by many strong arguments: he put into my hands sixty pounds to be laid out in lottery tickets for the battery, with directions to apply what prizes might be