Benjamin Franklin, the printer boy


Material Information

Benjamin Franklin, the printer boy
Physical Description:
iv, 124 p. : col. ill. ; 17 cm.
William P. Nimmo & Co ( Publisher )
Morrison and Gibb ( Printer )
William P. Nimmo & Co.
Place of Publication:
Morrison and Gibb
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Printers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Apprentices -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fathers and sons -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Brothers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Biographical fiction -- 1880   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1880   ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1880
novel   ( marcgt )
Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Biographical fiction   ( rbgenr )
Prize books (Provenance)   ( rbprov )
Spatial Coverage:
Scotland -- Edinburgh


General Note:
Frontispiece printed in colors; engraved by Williamson.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 002222109
notis - ALG2343
oclc - 62075392
System ID:

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CHnoosIN A TRADE, 23




iv Contents.















IT was a bright welcome holiday to little Benjamin
Franklin, when his kind parents gave him some coppers
to spend as he pleased. Possibly it was the first time he
was ever permitted to go out alone into the streets of Boston
with money to spend for his own pleasure; for he was now
but seven years old.
"Can I have more coppers when these are gone ?" he
"No," replied his mother; "you have quite as many
now as will be for your welfare, I think. You must be a
good boy, and keep out of mischief."
"Lay out your money wisely, Benjamin. I shall
want to see how much wisdom you display in your purchases.
Remember all is not gold that glitters.' "
Like other boys, on such occasions, his head was filled
with bewitching fancies, and he evidently expected such a

2 Benjamin Frankhin,

day of joy as he never had before. First in his thoughts
stood the toy-shop, into the windows of which he had often
looked wistfully.
Benjamin, on going out to spend his money, had not pro.
needed far before he met a boy blowing upon a whistle. He
could scarcely help envying the boy the happiness of own-
ing so valuable a treasure. He stopped and looked at him
with an expression of delight, and they exchanged glances
that shewed a genuine sympathy between them. At once he
resolved to possess a whistle, and away he hastened to the
toy-shop, knowing that he could purchase one there.
"Have you any whistles ?" he inquired.
Plenty of them," answered the proprietor, with a smile,
as he brought forth a number, to the amazement of his
little customer.
"I will give you all the money I have for one," said.
Benjamin, without waiting to inquire the price, so enthu.
siastic was he to become the possessor of such a prize.
How much money have you ?" asked the shopkeeper.
Benjamin told him honestly just how much he had, and
the merchant gave him a whistle in exchange for it.
Never was a child more delighted than he, when the
bargain was made. He tried every whistle, that he might
select the one having the most music in it; and when his
choice was settled, he turned his steps towards home. He
reached home and hurried into the house, blowing his
whistle lustily as he went, as if he expected to astonish the
whole race of Franklins by the shrillness, if not by the
sweetness of his music.

the Printer Boy. 3

"What have you there, Benjamin?" inquired his
"A whistle," he answered, hardly stopping his blowing
long enough to give a reverent reply.
How much did you give for your whistle ?" asked one
of his cousins, who was present.
"All the money I had," he replied.
"What I" exclaimed his brother, "did you give all your
money for that little whistle ?"
"Yes," replied Benjamin.
"You are not half so sharp as I thought you were," con-
tinued his brother. "It is four times as much as the
whistle is worth."
You should have asked the price of it," said his mother.
" Some men will take all the money they can get for an
article. Perhaps he did not ask so much as you gave for
"If you had given a reasonable price for it," said his
brother, you might have had enough left to have bought a
pocketful of good things. I must confess you are a smart
fellow, Ben, to be taken in like that," continued his brother,
rather deridingly. All your money for that worthless
thing, that is enough to make us crazy You ought to
know better."
By this time Benjamin, who had said nothing in reply to
their taunts and reproofs, was running over with vexation,
and he burst into tears, and made even more noise by cry-
ing than he had done with his whistle. Their ridicule, and
the thought of having paid so mub more than he ought for

4 Benjamin Frankli',

the article, overcame him. His mother came to the rescue,
by saying,
Never mind, Benjamin, you will understand better next
time. We must all live and learn. Perhaps you did about
as well as most boys of your age would."
On the whole, it was really a benefit that Benjamin paid
too much for his whistle. For he learned a lesson-thereby
which he never forgot. It destroyed his happiness on that
holiday, but it saved him from much unhappiness in years
to come. More than sixty years afterwards, when he was in
France, he wrote to a friend, rehearsing this incident of his
childhood, and said:-
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the
impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I
was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to
myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the
actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who
gave too muchfor the whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly em-
ploying himself in political bustles, neglecting his own
affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays indeed,
said I, too muchfor his whistle.
If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine
houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune,
for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a
prison, Alas, say I, he has paid dear, very dear, for his

the Printer Boy. 5

In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of
mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they
have made of the value of things, and by their giving too
much for their whistle."
Thus Benjamin made a good use of one of the foolish acts
of his boyhood, which tells well for both his head and heart.
Many boys are far less wise, and do the same foolish thing
over and over again. They never learn wisdom from the
past. Poor, simple, pitiable class of boys !
Let the reader prove himself another Benjamin Franklin
in this respect. Remember that there is more than one
way to pay too dearfor a whistle, and he is wisest who tries
to discover them all.
When a boy equivocates, or deceives, to conceal some
act of disobedience from his parents or teachers, and thereby
lays the foundations for habitual untruthfulness, he pays too
dear for the whistle ; and he will learn the truth of it when
he becomes older, and cannot command the confidence of
his friends and neighbours, but is branded by them as an
unreliable, dishonest man.
So, in general, the young person who is fascinated by
worldly pleasure, and supposes that wealth and honour are
real apples of gold to the possessor, thinking less of good-
ness and a life of piety than he does of mere show and
worldliness, will find that he has been playing with a costly
whistle, when age and his last sickness comes, and death
confronts him with its stern realities.

6 Benjamin Franklin,



" WELL, Benjamin," said his father, laying down his
violin, upon which he was wont to play in the evening,
for his own and children's amusement, how should you
like to go to school and qualify yourself to be a minister ?
You are as fond of your books as James is of printing, or
John of making candles I "
"I should like to go to school very well," replied Ben-
jamin, after some hesitation.
"You are old enough now," continued his father, "to
think about a trade or profession. Your elder brothers
have their trades, and perhaps you ought to give your
service to the Church. You like to study, do you not ?"
"Yes, father, I do indeed."
"It will cost a good deal to keep you at school and edu-
cate you, and perhaps I shall not be able to do it with so
large a family to support. I have to be very industrious now
to make my ends meet. But if you are diligent to improve
your time, and lend a helping hand at home, out of
school hours, I may be able to do it."
"When shall I begin, if you decide to let me go ?"
"Immediately. It is a long process to become qualified
for the ministry, and the sooner you begin the better."
Uncle Benjamin," as he was called in the family, a
brother of our little hero's father, sat listening to the con-
versation, and at this point remarked, Yes, Benjamin, it is

the Printer Boy. 7

the best thing you can do. I am sure you can make very
rapid progress at school; and there ought to be one
preacher in the family, I think."
So many people have told me," added his father. Dr
Willard (his pastor) said as much to me not long ago, and I
am fully persuaded to make the trial."
It won't be a severe trial either," said Uncle Benjamin.
" The thing can be accomplished more easily than at first
appears. I tell you what it is, Benjamin," addressing him.
self to the boy, when you are qualified for the office, I will
give you my large volume of short-hand sermons, and the
reading of these will improve your manner of sermonizing."
This interview occurred above one hundred and fifty
years ago, between Benjamin Franklin, who paid too much
for the whistle, and his father, whose Christian name was
Josiah. The lad was eight years old at the time, a bright,
active, intelligent boy, who was more fond of reading than
any other child in the family. He was born in Boston, on
Sunday, January 6, 1706.
He was named after his uncle, and this circumstance alone
was well suited to beget a mutual interest and attachment
between them. His love of books early attracted the
attention of his parents and others, and they regarded him
as a precocious child. On this account the remark was
often volunteered, that he ought to be sent to college."
We have said that Mr Franklin was playing upon his
violin on the evening of the aforesaid interview. He was
very fond of music, was a good singer, and performed well
upon the violin. lie was wont to gather his family around

8 Benjamin Franklin,

him during the leisure hours of evening, and sing and play.
Many cheerful and happy seasons were passed in this way
at the fireside, the influence of which was excellent upon
his children.
That it would be doubtful whether he could meet the ex.
pense of sending Benjamin to college, must appear to the
reader, when he learns that he was a labouring man, and
had a family of seventeen children, thirteen of whom sat
around his table together at one time. Fourteen were older
than Benjamin, and two were younger. To support so large
a family must have taxed the energies of the father to the
utmost, even though no one of them was destined for a
learned profession.
It was arranged that Benjamin should immediately enter
school, and enjoy the best literary advantages which the
poverty of his father could provide. He acceded to the plan
with hearty good-will, and commenced his studies with a
zeal and enthusiasm such as few scholars exhibit.
I have seen the teacher to-day," said Mr Franklin to
his wife, two or three months after his son entered school,
" and he says that he is making rapid progress, and will
soon stand first in his class, although others have enjoyed
much better advantages."
I am glad to hear it," answered Mrs Franklin, with a
satisfied air, such as mothers are likely to betray when they
know that their children are doing well; I think he will
make a good scholar if he can have the opportunity, though
I scarcely see how you will be able to educate him."
I can hardly see how myself," said her husband ; "yet

the Printer Boy. 9

I trust that God will provide a way. At any rate, I hope
for the best."
It will be more and more expensive every year to sup-
port him," added Mrs Franklin, since his clothes will cost
more as he advances in years. The least expense in edu-
cating him we are having now."
That is very true, and I have looked at the matter in
this light, all the while not being able to see my way quite
clear, yet trusting to providence for a happy issue."
Within a few months after Benjamin entered school, he
had advanced from the middle to the head of his class.
He was so apt to learn, and gave so close attention to his
lessons, that his teacher spoke of him as a boy of uncommon
promise. He did not stand at the head of his class long,
however, before he was transferred to a higher one. He so
far outstripped his companions, that the teacher was obliged
to advance him thus, otherwise his mental progress would
have been injuriously retarded. His parents were highly
gratified with his diligent improvement of time and oppor-
tunities, and other relatives and friends began to prophesy
his future eminence.
It is generally the case that such early attention to
studies, in connexion with the advancement that follows,
awakens high hopes of the young in the hearts of all
observers. Such things foreshadow the future character, so
that people think they can tell what the man will be from
what the boy is. So it was with young Benjamin
It was quite natural, then, for the parents and friends of

o1 Beynamin Franklin,

Benjamin Franklin to be encouraged by his love of books,
and diligent attention, especially when so much intellectual
brightness was also manifest. The sequel will prove
whether their hopes were wisely cherished.
Benjamin had not been in school quite a year, when his
father saw plainly that he would not be able to defray the
expense of educating him.
"I might keep him along for the present," said he to his
wife, but I am satisfied that I cannot carry him through.
My family expenses are now very great, and they will be
still larger. It will make considerable difference in my
expenses whether Benjamin is kept at school, or assists me
by the labour of his hands."
"I am sorry for Benjamin," continued Mrs Franklin,
"for he has become much interested in his school, and it
will be a great disappointment to him."
I thought of that much before coming to my present
decision; but there is no alternative. Providence seems to
indicate, now, the course I should take, and I am the more
willing to follow, because the times do not hold out so much
encouragement to those who would enter the service of
the Church. There are many trials and hardships to be
met in the work, and at the present day they seem to be
There are trials almost anywhere in these times," said
Mrs Franklin, and I suppose we ought to bear them with
This subject was very thoroughly considered before it was
opened to Benjamin. His father was too anxious to educate

the Printer Boy. Ix

him to change his purpose without much patient thought
and circumspection. Nothing but absolute necessity induced
him to come to this decision.
One evening, as the school term was drawing to a close,
Mr Franklin said to Benjamin,
"I think I shall be under the necessity of taking you
away from school at the close of the term. The times are
so hard, that I find, with my best exertions, I can do little
more than supply you with food and clothes."
"And not go to school any more ?" anxiously inquired
"Perhaps not. Such appears to be your prospect now,
though I cannot say that God may not open a way hereafter;
I hope He will."
Why can I not attend school till I am old enough to
help you? "
"You are old enough to help me now. I could find
plenty for you to do every day, so that you could make
yourself very useful."
But I do not intend to set you to work immediately,"
continued Mr Franklin. "You must give some attention to
penmanship and arithmetic, and I shall send you to a
writing-school for a season."
I shall like that, for I want to know how to write well,"
said Benjamin.
It is equally important that you learn to cipher. It will
not take you many months to become a good penman, and
to acquire considerable knowledge of numbers."
I care more about writing than I do about arithmetic,"

I2 Benjamin Franklin,

said Benjamin. I don't think I shall like arithmetic very
"People have to study many things they don't like,"
responded his father. It is the only way they can qualify
themselves for business. You would not make much of an
appearance in the world without some acquaintance with
"I know that," said Benjamin; "and I shall try to
master it, even if I do not like it. I am willing to do what
you think is best."
I hope you will always be as willing to yield to my
judgment. It is a good sign for a boy to accept cheerfully
the plans of his father, who has had more experience."
Benjamin was generally very prompt to obey his parents,
even when he did not exactly see the necessity of their
commands. He understood well that obedience was a law
of the household, which could not be violated with impunity;
therefore he wisely obeyed.
Benjamin was taken away from school, agreeably to his
father's decision, and sent to perfect himself in arithmetic
and penmanship. He had attended the grammar-school
less than a year, and had little or no prospect of returning
to his studies. But the disappointment was somewhat
alleviated by the advantages offered at the writing-class.
Here he made rapid progress in penmanship, though he
failed in mastering the science of numbers. He had more
taste, and perhaps tact, for penmanship than he had for
arithmetical rules and problems, and this may account for
the difference of his improvement in the two branches

the Printer Boy. 13

We should have remarked that Benjamin endeared him-
self to his teacher while he was a member of the public
school, and it was with regret that the latter parted with his
studious pupil. His close attention to his duties, and his
habitual good deportment, in connexion with his progress,
made him such a scholar as teachers love.



WHEN Benjamin was ten years old he could write a very
good hand, and read fluently, though his knowledge of
arithmetic was very limited.
Are you about ready, Benjamin, to come into the shop
and help me ?" inquired his father, one day at the dinner
Am I going to school any longer ?" he asked.
"I think the close of this term will complete the educa-
tion I am able to give you," replied his father, with apparent
I had rather not go into the shop," said Benjamin. I
think I shall not like to make candles, and I really wish you
would engage in some other business."
"And starve, too," said his father. In such times as
these we must be willing to do what will insure us a liveli-
hood. I know of no other business that would give me a

14 Benjamin Franklin,

living at present, certainly none that I am qualified to
Well, I should rather make soap and candles than
starve," said Benjamin ; but nothing else could make me
willing to follow the business."
One other thing ought to make you willing to do such
work," added his father. You had better do this than do
nothing, for idleness is the parent of vice. Boys like you
should be industrious, even if they do not earn their
bread. It is better for them to work for nothing than not
to work at all. It is so important for the young to form
industrious habits, that they had better work for nothing
than be idle. If they are idle when they are young, they
will be so when they become men, and idleness will finally
be their ruin. The devil tempts all other men, but idle
men tempt the devil,' is an old and truthful proverb."
Mr Franklin has been a close observer all his life, and he
had noticed that industry was characteristic of those who
accomplished anything commendable. Consequently, he
insisted that his children should have employment. He
allowed no drones in his family hive. All had something to
do as soon as they were old enough to toil. Under such
influences.Benjamin was reared, and he grew up to be as
much in love with industry as his father was. Some of his
best counsels, and most interesting sayings, when he became
a man, related to this subject. The following are among
the maxims which he uttered in his riper years:-
"Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labour wears;
while the used key is always bright."

the Printer Boy. 15

"But dost thou love life ? Then do not squander time,
for that is the stuff life is made of."
If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time
must be the greatest prodigality."
Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry all easy;
and he that ariseth late must trot all day, and shall scarce
overtake his business at night; while laziness travels so
slowly, that poverty soon overtakes him."
At the working man's house hunger looks in, but
4ares not enter."
Diligence is the mother of good luck, and God gives all
things to industry."
One to-day is worth two to-morrows."
Drive thy business, let not thy business drive thee."
God helps them that help themselves."
But we need not enlarge upon these sayings of Franklin.
They are all charged with wisdom, and might be expanded
into volumes. The more we study them, the more beauty
we perceive.
It was settled that Benjamin should assist his father in
the manufacture of candles, notwithstanding his disinclina-
tion to engage in the business. His prospects of more
schooling were thus cut off at ten years of age, and now he
was obliged to turn his attention to hard work. It was
rather an unpromising future to a little boy. No more
schooling after ten years of age I What small opportunities
in comparison with those enjoyed by nearly every boy at the
present day Now they are just beginning to learn at this
early age. From ten they can look forward to six or eight

S6 Benjamin Franklin,

years of golden opportunities in the school-room. Does the
young reader appreciate the privileges which he enjoys ?
To-morrow for the work-shop, Benjamin I" exclaimed
Mr Franklin, with a tone of pleasantry, on the evening
before he was initiated into the mysteries of making candles.
I am very busy, and require assistance very much at pre-
You can't expect much from me," said Benjamin, till
I learn how to do the work."
You can do what I shall set you about just as well as a
boy, or even a man, who had worked at the business for a
"I wonder what that can be that is so easy added
Benjamin, with some surprise.
You can cut the wicks, fill the moulds for cast-candles,
keep the shop in order, run hither and thither upon errands,
and do other things that will save my time, and thus assist
me just as much as a man could in doing the same things.
You will aid me just as much in going errands, as in
doing anything else. I have a good deal of such running
to do, and if you do it, I can be employed in the more im-
portant part of my business, which no one else can attend
to. Besides, your nimble feet can get over the ground
much quicker than my older ones, so that you can really
perform this part of the business better that I can myself."
Benjamin made no reply to these last remarks, although
he was more favourably impressed, after hearing them, with
the tallow-chandler's calling. On the following day he en-
tered upon his new vocation, and if variety is the spice of

the Printer Boy. 7

life," then his first day in the shop had plenty of spice.
He cut wicks, filled moulds, performed errands, and played
the part of general waiter, in which there was much variety.
And this was his work for successive weeks, very little of
his time being unoccupied. Do you ask how he likes it?
The following conversation with his mother will answer.
I don't like it at all, mother,-no better than I thought
I should," he said. I wish I could do something else."
What else is there for you to do, Benjamin ?" replied
his mother. "What would you like to do ?"
I would like to go to sea, on a voyage to Europe or
the East Indies."
"What!" exclaimed his mother, exhibiting surprise, for
she had not dreamed that her son had any inclination to go
.ea. "Want to be a sailor 1 What put that into your
head ?"
I have always thought I should like to go to sea," he
answered; and I am so tired of making candles that I want
to go now more than ever."
I am astonished, Benjamin. You might know that I
should never give my consent to that. And how you want
to leave your good home, and all your friends, to live in a
ship, exposed to storms and death all the time ?"
"It is not because I do not love my home and friends,
but I have a desire to sail on a voyage to some other country.
I like theater, and nothing would suit me so well as to be
a cabin-boy."
There, Benjamin, you must never say another word
about it." continued his mother; and you must not think

18 Benjamin Franklin,

any more about going; for I shall never give my consent,
and I know your father never will.
Benjamin had said nothing about this matter to his
father, and this prompt veto of his mother put a damper on
his hopes, so that he continued to work at the shop, with all
his dislike for the business. His parents talked over the
matter, and his father was led thereby to watch him more
carefully, that he might nip the first buddings of desire for
the sea. At length, however, Benjamin ventured to make
known his wishes to his father.
I have thought, father," said he, "that I should like
to go to sea, if you are willing;" and there he stopped,
evidently expecting to be refused.
What has happened to lead you to desire this ?" in-
quired his father.
"Not anything," he answered. "I always thought 1
should like it,-though I have had a stronger desire lately."
I see how it is," continued his father. You have
been to the water with the boys frequently of late, and I
have noticed that you loved to be in a boat better than to
make candles. I am afraid that your sports on the water
are making you dissatisfied with your home, and that hero
is the secret of your wanting to go to sea."
No, father; I think as much of my home as I ever did,
and I like a boat no better now than I did the first time I
got into one."
Perhaps it is so; but boys don't always know when
tuey are losing their attachment to home. You need not
say another syllable, however, about going to sea, for I shall

the Printer Boy. Iq

never consent to it. You may as well relinquish at once all
thought of going, since I strictly forbid your laying any such
plans. If you do not wish to be a tallow-chandler, you may
try some other business. I shall not insist upon your work-
ing with me, though I shall insist upon your following some
I shall not want to go to sea against your wishes," said
Benjamin. I only thought I would go if you and mother
were perfectly willing. I can work at this dirty trade too,
if you think it is best, though I can never like it."
"I am glad to see that you have so much regard for your
parents' wishes," said his father. "If your brother had
been as considerate, he never would have become a sailor.
Children should always remember that their parents know
best, as they have had more experience and time to observe.
I say again, if you will abandon all thoughts of a seafaring
life, I will try to find you a situation to learn some trade
you may choose for yourself."
Benjamin was not disposed to enter upon a sailor's life
contrary to his parents' counsels, and he submitted to his
father's decision with as much cheerfulness and good feeling
as could be expected in the circumstances. He knew that
it was little use to tease his father when he said no" to a
project. His emphatic "no usually put an end to all
There is little doubt that Benjamin had been somewhat
influenced by his frolics in and on the water. For some
time, as opportunity offered, he had been down to the
water to bathe, and had become an expert swimmer in a very

20 Benjamin Franklin,

short time, and not one of the boys so readily learned to
manage a boat. He exhibited so much tact in these water
feats, that he was usually regarded as a leader by the boys,
and all matters of importance were referred to his judg-
ment. It was not strange, therefore, that he should be more
in love with an ocean life after such pastimes with his com-
It was certainly a poor prospect that was before the
young tallow-chandler. It was not a trade to call into
exercise the higher and nobler faculties of the mind and
heart. On that account, no one could expect that Benjamin
would rise to much distinction in the world; and this will
serve to awaken the reader's surprise as he becomes ac-
quainted with the sequel.



WE have referred to Benjamin's habit of reading. It had
been his custom to spend his evenings, and other leisure
moments, in reading. He was much pleased with voyages,
and such writings as John Bunyan's. The first books he
possessed were the works of Bunyan, in separate little
volumes. After becoming familiar with them, he sold them,
in order to obtain the means to buy Burton's Historical
Collections," which were small, cheap books, forty volumes

the Printer Boy. 21

in all. His father also possessed a good number of books
for those times, when books were rare, and these he read
through, although most of them were really beyond his
years, being controversial writings upon theology. His love
of reading was so great, that he even read works of this
character with a degree of interest. In the library, however,
were three or four books of somewhat different character.
There was Plutarch's Lives," in which he was deeply in-
terested; also Defoe's Essay on Projects." But to no one
book was he more indebted than to Dr Mather's Essay to
Do Good." From this he derived hints and sentiments which
had a beneficial influence upon his after life. He said, forty
or fifty years afterwards, It gave me a turn of thinking
that had an influence on some of the principal future events
of my life," .And he wrote to a son of Cotton Mather, I
have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of
good, than on any other kind of reputation; and if I have
been, as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the public owes
the advantage of it to that book." Some of the sentiments
of the book which particularly impressed him were as fol-
lows :-" It is possible that the wisdom of a poor man may
start a proposal that may save a city, save a nation." A
mean (humble) mechanic,-who can tell what an engine of
good he may be, if humbly and wisely applied unto it ?"
" The remembrance of having been the man that first moved
a good law, were better than a statue erected for one's
memory." These, and similar thoughts, stimulated his mind
to action, and really caused him to attempt what otherwise
would have been impossible.

22 Benjamin Franklin,

The habit of spending leisure hours in poring over books,
has saved many boys from vice and ruin. Many more might
have been saved, if they had been so fond of books as to
stay at home in the evenings to read. It is an excellent
habit to form, and tends to preserve the character unsullied,
while it stores the mind with useful knowledge.
We shall see, as we advance, that Benjamin became very
systematic and economical in the use of his time, that he
might command every moment possible to read. The bene-
fit he derived from the exercise when he was young, caused
him to address the following letter, many years thereafter,
to a bright, intelligent girl of his acquaintance. The letter,
being devoted to "Advice on Reading," is a valuable one tc
young persons now.
I send my good girl the books I mentioned to her last
night. I beg of her to accept of them as a small ma'r of
my esteem and friendship. They are written in the famil-
iar and easy manner for which the French are so remark-
able, and afford a good deal of philosophic and practical
knowledge, unembarrassed with the dry mathematics used
by more exact reasoners, but which is apt to discourage
young beginners.
I would advise you to read with a pen in your hand,
and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that
is curious, or that may be useful; for this will be the best
method of imprinting such particulars on your memory,
where they will be ready either for practice on some future
occasion, if they are matters of utility, or at least to adorn
and improve your conversation, if they are rather points of

the Printer Boy. 23

curiosity; and as many of the terms of science are such as
you cannot have met with in your common reading, and may
therefore be unacquainted with, I think it would be well for
you to have a good dictionary at hand, to consult immedi-
ately when you meet with a word you do not comprehend the
the precise meaning of.
This may, at first, seem troublesome and interrupting;
but it is a trouble that will daily diminish, as you will daily
find less and less occasion for your dictionary, as you be-
come more acquainted with the terms; and, in the meantime,
you will read with more satisfaction, because with more un-
derstanding. When any point occurs in which you would
be glad to have further information than your book affords
you, I beg that you would not in the least apprehend that I
should think it a trouble to receive and answer your ques-
tions." It will be a pleasure and no trouble. For though I
may not be able, out of my own little stock of knowledge, to
afford you what you require, I can easily direct you to the
books where it may most readily be found. Adieu, and be-
lieve me ever, my dear friend,


" You will have to be a tallow-chandler, after all, when your
brother gets married and goes away," said one of Benjamin's
associates to him. He had heard that an older son of Mr

24 Benjamin Franklin

Franklin, who worked at the business with his father, was
about to be married, and would remove to Rhode Island,
and set up business for himself.
Not I," replied Benjamin. I shall work at it no
longer than I am obliged to do."
That may be, and you be obliged to work at it all your
life. It will be, as your father says, till you are twenty-one
years old."
"I know that; but my father does not desire to have me
work in his shop against my wishes-only till I can find
some other suitable employment. I would rather go to sea
than anything."
"Are your parents willing that you should go to sea ?"
"No; they won't hear a word about it. I have talked
with them till it is of no use. They seem to think that I
should be shipwrecked, or that something else would happen,
to prevent my return."
Then, if you can't go to sea, and you won't be a tallow.
chandler, what can you do ?"
"I hardly know myself; but almost anything is prefer-
able to this greasy business. If people had no more light
than the candles I should make, unless I was obliged, they
would have a pretty dark time of it."
I don't think it is a very disagreeable business," con-
tinued his companion. It is quite easy work, certainly,-
much more to my liking than sawing wood, and some other
things I could name."
It may be easy," replied Benjamin, "but it is dirty and
simple. It requires no ingenuity to do all that I do.

the Printer Boy. 25

Almost any simpleton could cut wicks and fill candle-moulds.
A fellow who can't do it couldn't tell which side his bread
is buttered. I prefer to do something that requires thought
and ingenuity."
There is something in that; but I think it will take all
your ingenuity to work yourself out of the tallow-chandler's
business," responded the friend, rather dryly.
This conversation occurred one day in the shop, when Mr
Franklin was out. But just at this point he returned, and
soon after the young visitor left. Benjamin was not
acquainted with all his father's plans, and he had actually
proceeded further than he was aware of towards introducing
him into another calling, as the following conversation with
his wife, on the previous evening, will shew:-
"I have resolved to find some other employment foi
Benjamin at once," said he; as John is to be married so
soon, he will be able to render me but little more assistance,
and I must have some one to take his place."
"Are you satisfied," inquired Mrs Franklin, "that
Benjamin cannot be prevailed upon to take the place of
John in your shop ? "
Oh, yes he is so dissatisfied with the business that I
fear he will yet go to sea, unless his attention is soon turned
to some other pursuit. Then, if he has a taste for any
other honourable pursuit, I am willing that he should follow
it. He would not accomplish much at candle-making with
his present feelings."
Have you anything in view for him to do ? asked Mrs

26 Benjamin Franklin,

Not positively. I want to learn, if I can, whether he
has taste and tact for any particular business. If he has,
he will accomplish more in that. I don't believe in com-
pelling a boy to follow a pursuit for which he has no relish,
unless it is where nothing else offers."
I think it is very necessary for boys to have a definite
trade," said Mrs Franklin; they are now more likely to
succeed than those who are changing often from one thing
to another. A rolling stone gathers no moss,' is an old
saying.' "
That is the principal reason for my plan to introduce
him into some other business soon. No one feels the im-
portance of this more than I do, and I have pretty thoroughly
imbued the mind of Benjamin with the same views. I
think he has a desire to follow a definite calling, though
now his taste seems to draw him towards a seafaring life."
Benjamin could have appreciated this last remark, if it
had been uttered in his hearing. For he had listened to sc
much counsel upon this point, that he had no desire to run
from one thing to another. And he continued to cherish
this feeling. When he became a man, he wrote the follow-
ing maxims, among the many of which he was the
Ie that hath a trade hath an estate."
He that hath a calling hath an office of honour."
Here he taught the same lesson that he received from
the lips of his father and mother when he was young. A
trade is the assurance of a livelihood, however hard the
times may be. As a general rule. they who follow trades

the Printer Boy. 27

secure a living, when they who have none come to want and
But to return. Mr Franklin rather surprised Benjamin
by saying, after his associate left the shop, I have
decided on finding some other business for you immediately,
if possible. I hope to find some opening for your learning
an agreeable trade."
Where shall you go to find one ?" inquired Benjamin,
scarcely expecting to have his wishes gratified so early.
" Have you any particular trade in view ?"
"No, I want to consult your tastes about the matter
first; and I propose to go to-morrow with you, to see what
we can find."
And I go with you, did you say ?"
Yes, I wish to have you witness some things to which I
shall call your attention, and decide for yourself what calling
to follow."
Where will you go ?" inquired Benjamin, deeply inter-
ested in the plan, as well he might be.
I shall not go out of town. Boston furnishes good ex-
amples of the different trades, and we shall not be under the
necessity of extending our researches beyond its limits. So
to-morrow I think we will start."
Benjamin was delighted with the prospect of being de-
livered soon from the tallow-chandler's shop, and he an-
ticipated the morrow with considerable impatience. He
rejoiced when the light of the next morning came in at his
chamber window, and brighter and earlier he was up to
await his father's bidding. Suitable preparations were made,

28 Benjamin Franklin,

and directly after breakfast they set forth upon their import.
ant errand. The first shop they visited was that of a
joiner, where he saw the plane and hammer used to advan-
tage. He had witnessed such labour before, and also seen
other employment to which his father called his attention
on that day; but he never observed these different trades
with the object which now brought him to the shops. Having
spent some time at the joiner's bench, he next went to a turn-
er's place of business, where he saw different articles turned
to order, in so rapid a manner as to surprise him. He was
more interested in the turning-lathe and its rapid move-
ment, than he was in the use of joiner's tools. Passing
through a prominent street, after leaving the turner's, they
came to an unfinished structure, on which bricklayers were
employed. Here another trade was on exhibition, and Ben-
jamin's attention was called to it, and the various kind of
labour which this class of toilers were obliged to perform,
were explained to him. In this way they visited other work-
shops, until they had seen the practical operations of the
different trades, and Benjamin understood what kind of toil
each required. One of the last shops they visited was that
of Samuel Franklin, a son of Uncle Benjamin, and, of
course, a cousin of Benjamin. He learned the trade of
cutler in London, and had just come over and established
himself in Boston. Benjamin was evidently more pleased
with this kind of business than any he had seen on that day.
Whether it grew out of boyish love for jack-knives, or was
the consequence of closely observing the ingenious modes of
manufacturing cutlery, we need not say. It is enough to

the Printer Boy. 29

know, that he was partially captivated by the trade, and be-
fore they reached home his father was well satisfied which
trade he would select, though he had not questioned hhn at
all on this point.
"What trade have you decided to follow, Benjamin?"
inquired his mother, as they sat at the tea-table."
I think any of them are better than making candles,"
he replied; although I like Samuel's trade the best of
"That is just what I expected," said his father, laugh-
ingly. I saw that you fell in love with his work, and I
think myself that it is a very pleasant and promising busi-
So you will decide to take that trade, will you ?" said
his mother.
In preference to all the trades I have seen yet," said
He is after a pocket-knife," interrupted John, who sat
at the table, speaking in a vein of pleasantry. "I see
clearly what has taken his eye."
I suppose John will never care more about a knife, now
he is going to have a wife," added Mr Franklin, addressing
his remark to Benjamin, in order to help him out of the
predicament into which John's remark had placed him.
"But did you not like the brazier's business ? "
"Yes, I liked it very well, but not so well as I do the
cutler's trade. If I can have my choice I shall choose that,
and will begin to-morrow, if you are willing."
I shall make no objection, if that is your decision,"

30 Benjamin Franklin,

replied his father. I want you to weigh the matter care-
fully, however, and not be hasty in choosing."
It remains to be seen whether Samuel will take him as
an apprentice," said Mrs Franklin. Perhaps he may not
want one. He has just commenced, and cannot be doing
much business yet."
"Father can easily learn that," said Benjamin. "He
can see cousin Samuel to-morrow, and decide the matter at
"I will see him to-morrow," said his father, and
arrange for you to go into his shop if possible."
On the following day, Mr Franklin called upon Samuel,
his nephew, and made known the wishes of Benjamin.
Although it was a new and unexpected subject, yet he re-
ceived it favourably, and finally decided that Benjamin
might come immediately, and try his hand at this new busi-
ness. He thought it was best for both parties that no
definite agreement or bargain should be made until Ben-
jamin had tried the work, to which his father assented.
Accordingly, Benjamin entered upon his new trade im-
mediately, and was much pleased with it. It was so different
from the work of candle-making, and required so much
more thought and ingenuity, that he was prepared to pro-
nounce it first-rate." It was with a light and cheerful
heart that he went to each day's task.
Mr Franklin acted wisely in consulting the inclination of
his son about a trade. A boy may have more qualifications
for one pursuit than another; and this will generally be
made manifest in the bent of his mind. He will exhibit a

the Printer Boy. 31

degree of tact for one calling, while he may be a blunderer
at almost anything else. This characteristic is more remark-
able with some boys than with others, and a disregard of it
often entails unhappiness upon a whole family.



AFTra Benjamin had worked at cutlery a suitable time,
his father went to close the bargain, and make out the
papers for his apprenticeship. But, to his surprise, his
nephew demanded such conditions that Mr Franklin could
not think of accepting his proposition; and the result was,
that he took Benjamin away, much to his disappointment.
The boy submitted to his father's decision, however, with
a true filial obedience, evidently believing that he had good
reasons for taking such a stand. Now he was neither a
tallow-chandler nor a cutler, though not destined to be long
without employment.
Just before this juncture, as if Providence ordered events
on Benjamin's account, his brother James returned from
England, where he had learned the printing trade. He
brought with him a good press and type; in order to establish
himself in Boston.
How would you like to be a printer with your brother
James ?" inquired Mr Frankli", of Benjamin. "I have

32 Benjamin Franklin,

been thinking that it was a good thing you did not continue
the cutlery business, because you have superior qualifications
for this."
What qualifications have I for this that I have not for
the cutler's trade ?" asked Benjamin.
You are a good reader, and have an intellectual turn,
being fond of books, and such things belonging to mental
improvement as the trade of printer offers."
"I think I should like the business very well," added
Benjamin. Perhaps I should have a better opportunity to
read than I should with cousin Samuel."
Of course you would. For the very matter you may be
required to put into type may be as interesting and profitable
as anything you could find in a book. All that you read in
books went through the printer's hand first."
I had not thought of that before. I think I should like
the business better than almost anything I know of. How
long will it take to learn the trade ? "
"It will take some time," answered Mr Franklin. "You
are now twelve years of age, and you can certainly acquire
the best knowledge of the business by the time you are
twenty-one years old."
That is a long time," said Benjamin; but I shall do
what you think best."
"I want you should think it is best, too," said his father.
"If you have no inclination to be a printer, I do not wish to
have you undertake it, I have no confidence that you will
succeed in any business for which you have no taste."
"Well, I think better of the business now than I do of

the Printer Boy. 33

any other," replied Benjamin, "and I should like to try
"I will speak with James about it," said his father,
" and see what arrangements can be made. The prospects
of the business are not very flattering at present, but I think
they will be better by and by.
Mr Franklin lost no time in consulting his son James,
who favoured the plan without any reserve. He proposed
to take Benjamin as an apprentice, to serve until he was
twenty-one years of age, having only his board and clothes
until the last year, when he would receive journeyman's
wages. This was a good opportunity on the whole, for
printing was in its infancy in America at that time. It is
probable that not more than six or eight persons had been
in the business in Boston before James Franklin com-
menced, in the year 1717. The demand for printing must
have been very small indeed.
When Mr Franklin first made known to Benjamin the
conditions on which James would receive him into the print-
ing-office, and that he would be expected to sign the inden-
ture, and leave his father's roof for such a boarding-place
as his brother might provide, he hesitated about taking the
step. He stated his objections frankly and fully to his
father, who removed them without much difficulty, so that
the writings were drawn up, and Benjamin placed his signa-
ture to them and the compact was completed.
He had not laboured long at the business before he was
juite fascinated with it. He liked it better even than he
expected. He exhibited, too, a good degree of tact for it,

34 Benjamin Franklin,
and his progress in learning the art was rapid. His brother
was highly gratified with his close attention to his business,
and commended him for the use he made of his leisure
moments in reading. He was introduced now to another
class of acquaintances, so that his opportunities for getting
books to read were more favourable. The printing-office
was frequented by booksellers' apprentices, whose employers
had printing done in the office. Through them Benjamin
was made acquainted with the limited stock of books the
market afforded.
I will lend you that book to-night," said one of these
apprentices to him, "if you will return it clean in the
morning," alluding to a certain volume which Benjamin was
looking over in the book-store.
"I should be glad to read it," answered Benjamin; "
think I can read it through before I go to bed, and so return
it in the morning when I go to the office."
You won't have much time left for sleep, if you read
that book through before you go to bed," said the apprentice.
Perhaps not; but I can afford to make a short night's
rest of it if I can have the reading of this book. I shall
not mind that, and I can return it without a blemish."
The book is for sale," continued the apprentice, and
we might have a call for it to-morrow, or I would let you
keep it longer. If you do not read it all to-night, and we do
not sell it to-morrow, you can take it home with you again
to-morrow night. I frequently read a volume through, a
little at a time, before we have a chance to sell it."
You may be sure of having this in the morning, safe

the Printer Boy. 35

and sound," said Benjamin, as he left the store, thanking his
friend for the kind favour.
He went home, and sat up most of the night to read the
book, being more deeply interested in its contents than he
was in pleasant dreams. A short nap, after the volume was
finished, was all that time could afford him; and the book-
seller got his book, and the printing-office its apprentice, in
good season.
This was but a single instance of the favours he received
in this way from his new acquaintances in the book business.
Many nights he stole from sleep, that he might read volumes
which he must return in the morning. In this way his mind
was much improved, so that he began to be noticed in the
office as a boy of great promise. One day Mr Matthew
Adams, a merchant of rank and influence, who had been
attracted by Benjamin's appearance, said to him, "Do
you find time to read any, with all the work you have to
perform "
Yes, sir," replied Benjamin; I read in the evenings,
and occasionally find a little time during the day."
"It is an excellent plan for boys to improve their
mind," said Mr Adams; "you will never regret spending
your time in this way. I should be glad to shew you my
library, and to lend you any books you may be interested
in to read."
That is what I should like," said Benjamin, evidently
delighted with this unexpected offer; I find it difficult to
get all the books I want."
It would afford me great pleasure to assist you what

36 Benjamin Franklin,

little I can in this respect," repeated Mr Adams. Boys
who are not privileged to go to school need such help, and
I am glad to see that you are disposed to accept of it."
Benjamin thanked him for his kindness, and assured him
that he should embrace the first opportunity to call at his
house. He redeemed his promise at his earliest conven-
ience, and Mr Adams received him with genuine cordiality.
He shewed him his library, and allowed him to select any
book he preferred to carry home, and invited him to come
as often as he pleased for others. This was a brimful cup
of kindness to Benjamin, and the reader may be sure that
he thought highly of Mr Adams. Nor was he backward in
availing himself of the privilege offered, but went often to
gratify his thirst for knowledge.
The habit of reading which Benjamin had thus early
formed, served to make him punctual. In order to comn
mvand the more time, he was promptly at his work, and
efficiently discharged every duty. He was seldom, if ever
caught idle, and this well-formed habit of punctuality made
him very reliable in the printing office. His brother knew
that he would be there at such a time, and that he would
remain just so many hours. This fact won his confidence,
as it does the confidence of every one. There is no quality
that does more to gain a good name for an individual, and
inspire the confidence of his fellow-men, than this one of
punctuality. It is so generally found in company with other
excellent traits of character, that it seems to be taken for
granted usually, that the punctual person is worthy in other

thfe Printer Boy. 37



WHAT have you there ?" inquired James, one day, look.
ing over Benjamin's shoulder at some composition which he
held in his hand. Ay I Poetry, is it ? Then you are a
poet, are you ? Let me read it."
Benjamin rather hesitated to exhibit the first attempts
of his muse to fly, but James was determined to read it,
and so he gave it up to him, saying, "I was only seeing
what I could do."
The fact was, Benjamin had been reading poetry, and
having a little of its spirit in his own nature, he was
tempted to try his ability at writing some.
That is really good," said James, after he had read it;
"not quite equal to Virgil or Homer, but very good for a
printer-boy to write. Have you any other pieces ?"
Two or three more," answered Benjamin, somewhat
encouraged by his brother's commendation; but they are
not worth reading."
Produce them," said James, and I will tell you what
they are worth." Whereupon Benjamin took two or three
more from his pockets, which James read with evident
I tell you what it is, Benjamin," said James after having
read them all, you can write something worth printing if
you try ; and if you will undertake it. you may print and sell

38 Benjamin Franklin,

a sheet in the streets. I have no doubt that it would sell
I will see what I can do," replied Benjamin, though
I suspect my poetry won't read very well in print."
Benjamin was not long in producing two street ballads,
better, perhaps, than anything he had written before, but
still susceptible of very great improvement. One was
entitled, The Lighthouse Tragedy," and was founded on
the shipwreck of Captain Worthilake and his two daughters.
The other was a sailor's song, on the capture of the famous
"Teach," or Bluebeard," the pirate. James read them
with approbation.
Now," said he, you shall put them into type, and
sell them about the town, if you are willing. I have no
doubt that a good number of them may be disposed of."
How many copies of them would you print ? inquired
We can print a few to begin with, and let the type remain
standing until we see how they go. Then we shall run no
Shall I do it immediately ?"
"As soon as you can," answered James. The quicker
the better."
Benjamin was not long in printing the two ballads, and
having them ready for sale. Under the direction of his
brother, he went forth, in due time, to offer them about the
town. He met with very good success, particularly in the
sale of the first, The Lighthouse Tragedy." That com-
memorated an event of recent occurrence, and which ex-

the Printer Boy. 39

cited much public feeling and sympathy at the time, sj
that people were quite prepared to purchase. It sold even
beyond his expectations, and his success inflated his vanity
somewhat. It caused him to believe, almost, that he was a
genuine poet, and that distinction and a fortune were before
him. If he had not been confronted by his father on the
subject, it is possible that the speculation might have
proved a serious injury to him. But his father learned of
his enterprise, and called him to an account.
"I am ashamed to see you engaged m such a business,
Benjamin," said he.
"Why so, father ?"
Because it is not an honourable business. You are not
a poet, and can write nothing worthy of being printed."
"James approved of the pieces," said Benjamin, "and
proposed that I should print and sell them.
"James is not a judge of poetry," replied his father.
"It is wretched stuff, and I am ashamed that you are known
as the author. Look here, let me shew you wherein it is
defective;" and here Mr Franklin bgean to read it over
aloud, and to criticise it. He was a man of sound sense,
and competent to expose the faults of such a composition.
He proceeded with his criticisms, without sparing the young
author's feelings at all, until Benjamin himself began to be
sorry that he had undertaken the enterprise.
"There, I want you should promise me," said his father,
"that you will never deal in such wares again, and that you
will stick to your business of setting up type."
"Perhaps I may improve by practice," said Benjamin,

40 Benjamin Franklin,

" so that I may yet be able to write something worthy of
being read. You couldn't expect me to write very well at
first "
"But you are not a poet," continued Mr Franklin. It
is not in you, and even if it was, I should not advise you to
write it; for poets are generally beggars,-poor, shiftless
members of society.
"That is news to me," responded Benjamin. "How does
it happen, then, that some of their works are so popular ?"
Because a true poet can write something worthy of being
read, while a mere verse-maker, like yourself, writes only
doggerel that is not worth the paper on which it is printed.
Now I advise you to let verse-making alone, and attend
closely to your business, both for your own sake and your
Mr Franklin was rather severe upon Benjamin, although
what he said of his verses was true. Still, it was a com-
mendable effort in the boy to try to improve his mind.
Some of the best poets who had lived, wrote mere doggerel
when they began. Many of our best prose-writers, too
were exceedingly faulty writers at first. It is a noble
effort of a boy to try to put his thoughts into writing. If he
does not succeed in the first instance, by patience, energy,
and perseverance, he may truimph at last. Benjamin might
not have acted wisely in selling his verses about town, but
his brother, so much older and more experienced than him-
self, should bear the censure of that, since it was done by his
The decided opposition that Mr Franklin showed to verse

the Printer Boy. 41

making, dissipated the air-castle that his youthful imagina-
tion had built in consequence of the rapid sale of his lite-
rary wares. He went back to the office and his work quite
What has happened now ?" inquired James, noticing
that Benjamin looked somewhat less smiling.
"Father doesn't think much of my printing and selling
verses of my own," replied Benjamin.
"How is that ?" said James. "Does he dislike your
pieces ?"
"Yes; and he will not allow that they have any merit.
He read them over in his way, and counted faults enough
to shew that there is very little poetry in me. A beggar and
a poet mean the same thing to him."
He ought to remember that you are young," answered
James, and may improve wonderfully in future. You can't
expect to write either prose or poetry well without beginning
and trying."
"I should judge from father's talk that all the trying in
the world can do nothing for me," added Benjamin, rather
Perhaps it was a good thing for Benjamin to meet with
this obstacle in his path to success. According to his own
confession, his vanity was inflated by the sale of his ballads,
and he might have been puffed up, to his future injury, had
not his father thus unceremoniously taken the wind out of
his sails. There was little danger now, however. After
such a severe handling, he was not likely to overrate his
poetical talents. It had the effect also to turn his attention

42 Benjamin Franklin,

to prose writing, which is more substantial than poetry, and
in this he became distinguished, as we shall see hereafter.
The practice of writing down one's thoughts, called in our
schools composition," is excellent, and ought not to be so
generally neglected by the young as it is. It proved a valu-
able exercise to Benjamin, even before he became renowned
in the service of his country. In several instances, while he
was yet a youth, it enabled him to secure business, when
otherwise he might have been in extreme want. It gave
him the ability to conduct his brother's paper when only
sixteen years of age, at a time when the government of the
Province incarcerated James, so that the paper would have
been crushed but for the ability of Benjamin. When he first
commenced business in Philadelphia, also, it enabled him
to produce articles for the "Pennsylvania Gazette," which
attracted general notice, and opened the way for his becom-
ing both proprietor and editor of the same. And a little
later he was able to write a pamphlet on the Nature and
Necessity of a Paper Currency," proposing a measure that
was carried through the legislature, because the opponents
of it had no writer in their ranks competent to answer it.
These are only a few examples of the many advantages he
derived from early training himself to write, even before he
had passed the dew of his youth. In age he referred to
this practice of his boyhood with much pleasure, and
regarded it as one of the fortunate exercises that contributed
to his eminent success.

the Printer Boy. 43



BENJAMIN was intimate, at this time, with a youth by the
name of John Collins. He was intelligent, sprightly, and
fond of books, so that he was a very agreeable companion.
They differed somewhat in their opinions upon various
subjects, and frequently found themselves engaged in earnest
disputation. When other boys were accustomed to spend
their time in foolish talking and jesting, Benjamin and
John were warmly discussing some question of importance,
well suited to improve the mind. One day their conversa-
tion related to the education of the sexes.
It would be a waste of money," said John, to attempt
to educate girls as thoroughly as boys are educated; for the
female sex are inferior to the male in intellectual endow-
Pshaw I exclaimed Benjamin; you know better
than that. The girls are not so simple as you think they
are. I believe that women are not a whit inferior to men
in their mental qualities."
I should like to know where you discovered the evidence
of it," replied John. There is no proof of it in the
works they have written."
That may be true, and still they stand upon an equality
in respect to intellect. For not half so much is done to
educate them as there is to educate the male sex. How

44 Benjamin Franklin.
can you tell whether they are mentally inferior or not, until
they are permitted to enjoy equal advantages ?"
"As we tell many other things," answered John. "Wo-
men do not need so high mental endowments as men, since
they are not required to lead off in the different branches ol
business, or to prosecute the sciences. I can see no wis-
dom in bestowing talents upon them which they never use,
and it is often said that nothing is made in vain.' "
"Well, I must go," said Benjamin, "but I think you
have a weak cause to defend. If I had the time I could
make out a case."
A poor one, I guess," quickly added John. We will
see, the next time we meet, who can make out a case."
"It will be some time before we meet again," responded
Benjamin, and our ardour will be cooled before that time,
I am thinking. But it will do us no harm to discuss the
If we keep our temper," said John, tacking his sentence
to the last word of Benjamin's reply. And so saying they
After Benjamin had revolved the subject still more in his
mind, he became anxious to commit his argument to writing.
Accordingly, with pen and paper in hand, he sat down to
frame the best argument he could in favour of educating the
female sex. He wrote it in the form of a letter, addressed
to his friend Collins, and after having completed, he copied
it in a fair hand, and sent it to him. This brought back a
long reply, which made it necessary for Benjamin to pen an
answer. In this vwr the correspondence contmued, until

the Printer Boy 45

several letters had passed between them, and each one had
gained the victory in his own estimation.
One day Benjamin's father met with these letters acci-
dentally, and he read them over, and was somewhat im-
pressed with their character.
What are these, Benjamin," he inquired, at the same
time holding up the letters.
Benjamin smiled, and rather hesitated to reply.
So it seems you have been engaged in a controversy
with John," continued Mr Franklin. You have both done
very well, though I think there is some chance of improve-
ment yet."
Have you read them all ?" inquired Benjamin.
"I have, and must say that, in some respects, John has
the advantage of you."
In what has he the advantage ?" asked Benjamin, with
some anxiety.
Well, John writes in a more finished style than you
do," answered Mr Franklin. His expressions are more
elegant, and there is more method and perspicuity in his
"I rather think you are prejudiced," said Benjamin, with
a smile.
I rather think not," answered his father. You have
the advantage of John in correct spelling, and in pointing
your sentences, which is the consequence of working in the
printing-office. But I can convince you that less method
and alaarness characterize your letters than his."

46 Benjamin FranciAn,

"I am ready to be convinced," added Benjamin. I
hardly expect I have attained perfection in writing yet."
His father then proceeded to read from the letters of
each, with the design of shewing that John's writing was
more perspicuous, and that there was more method in his
argument. Nor was it a very difficult task.
I am convinced," said Benjamin, before his father had
read all he intended to read. I can make improvement
in those points without much trouble. There is certainly
a good chance for it."
That is what I want you to see," rejoined his father.
" I am really pleased with your letters, for they shew me
that you have talents to improve. My only object in calling
your attention to these defects is to aid you in cultivating
your mental powers."
This kind, paternal criticism was a very happy thing. for
Benjamin. It had the effect to make him more careful in
his compositions, and to beget within him both a desire and
resolve to improve. Not long after, he met with an old
volume of the Spectator, on a bookstall; and knowing that it
would be a good model by which to form the style, he deter-
mined to purchase it. He bought it at a low price, and
began to study it with reference to improving the style of his
composition. The method which he adopted to discipline
himself, by the aid of this work, is proof of his patience,
perseverance, and desire to excel. In the first place, he
read it over and over, until he became very well acquainted
with its contents. Then he took some of the papers it con-
tained, and made short hints of the sentiments of each sen-

the Printer Boy. 47

tence, and laid them by for a few days; and then, without
referring to the book, he proceeded to put those thoughts
into sentences, and thus went through each paper-a long
and laborious work. When he had completed a paper in
this way, he carefully compared his Spectator with the ori-
ginal, and was able thereby to discover and correct many
errors in his style. He found that he was very deficient in
the command of language.
If you had not discouraged me in writing poetry," said
he to his father, "I should have found it of much service
How so ?" inquired Mr Franklin.
If I had continued to write poetry, I should have been
obliged to select words that would rhyme, and this would
have made me familiar with a larger number of words, and
the choicest ones, too. I am greatly troubled now to find
words to express my thoughts."
I should have had no objections to your writing poetry
with such an object in view; but to print and sell it about
town was carrying the thing a little too far," replied Mr
Franklin. "It is not too late to begin now. I rather think
you have discovered an important defect in your writing.
John evidently has a better command of language than you
have, hence his style is more polished. But you are at
work, now, in the right way to improve. Perseverance will
accomplish the thing."
I am going to do this," said Benjamin; "I shall take
some of the tales in the book and put them into verse, and
then. after a while, change them back again."


48 Benjamin Franklin,

That will be a good exercise," answered his father,
much pleased with his son's desire to improve. If your
patience holds out, you will be amply rewarded, in the end,
for all your labour."
This last purpose, Benjamin executed with much zeal,
and thus divided his time between putting tales into poetry,
and then turning them into prose. He also jumbled his
collection of hints into confusion, and so let them lie for
some weeks, when he would again reduce them to order, and
write out the sentences to the end of the subject.
For a printer-boy to accomplish so much, when he must
work through the day in the office, seemed hardly possible.
But, at this period, Benjamin allowed no time to be wasted.
He always kept a book by him in the office, and every
spare moment was employed over its pages. In the morning,
before he went to work, he found some time for reading and
study. He was an early riser, not, perhaps, because he had
no inclination to lie in bed, but because he had more to
improve his mind. He gained time enough in the morning,
by this early rising, to acquire more knowledge than some
youths and young men do by constantly going to school.
In the evening, he found still more time for mental improve-
ment, extending his studies often far into the night. It
was his opinion that people generally consume more time
than is necessary in sleep, and one of his maxims, penned
in early manhood, was founded on that opinion. The
maxim is, The sleeping fox catches no poultry."
It is not strange that a boy who subjected himself to such
close discipline for a series of years should write some of

the Printer Boy. 49

the best maxims upon this subject when he became a man.
Take the following, in addition to those cied in a former
There are no gains without pains; then help hands, for
I have no lands."
Industry pays debts, while despair increaseth them."
"Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-
"Leisure is time for doing something useful."
A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things."
Fly pleasures, and they will follow you. The diligent
spinner has a large shift, and, now I have a sheep and a
cow, every one bids me good-morrow."
"Be ashamed to catch yourself idle."
Handle your tools without mittens; remember that
the cat in gloves catches no mice."
There is much to be done, and perhaps you are weak-
handed: but stick to it steadily, and you will see great
effects, for constant dropping wears away stones; and by
diligence and patience the mouse ate in two the cable; and
Little strokes fell great oaks."

Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Here is the genuine gold of thought,-whole volumes of
counsel worked down into single flashing lines of truth,-
just such utterances as we might expect from the lips of one
who was early taught to walk in the ways of wisdom. All
along in the future of Benjamin's life, we shall see these

50 oBenjamin Franklin,

maxims illustrated, proving that they are living and bright
It must appear quite evident to the reader by this time,
that Benjamin derived much benefit from his conversation
with John Collins, upon a useful topic. A large majority of
boys of their age, spend their leisure moments in vain and
useless talking. They think not of self-improvement, and
scarcely desire to be benefited in this way. The most un-
meaning and thoughtless words escape from their lips, and
a sound, sensible, valuable conversation, they seldom, if
ever, attempt. What an excellent example is that of young
Franklin and Collins, discussing a question of importance,
instead of wasting their breath in meaningless chatter I It
stimulated the former to consult the best models of style in
composition, and was the real occasion of his adopting a
most critical and thorough plan of self-culture. All this the
consequence of conversing properly, instead of spending
leisure moments in boyish antics, or uttering nonsense.



ON the seventeenth day of January, 1721, James Franklin
began to issue a newspaper, called THE NEW ENGLAND
COURANT." It was the third one at the time in the whole
When he proposed to start the third paper in America,

the Printer Boy. 5

some of his friends thought it was a wild project, and
endeavoured to dissuade him from it. They saw nothing
but ruin before him, and used every persuasion to lead him
to abandon the enterprise. They thought that two news-
papers, such as would now excite a smile by their inferior
size, were quite enough for the country.
James however decided to issue his paper, notwithstand-
ing the advice of some of his friends to the contrary, and
he thus opened the subject to Benjamin:-
I have resolved to issue a paper, and it will require our
united exertions to make it go. No doubt I shall meet
with opposition, and perhaps shall fail in the attempt, but
I have determined to fail trying."
What particular service can I render ?" inquired Ben.
"Aside from your usual work of type-setting, you are
qualified to look after the composition and spelling of the
articles in each number, and a part of your work shall be
to deliver the paper to subscribers from week to week."
And be collector, too, I suppose," added Benjamin,
rather pleased with the idea of issuing a newspaper from the
"As you like about that," answered his brother,"
"though it may be convenient, often, to have you render
such a service."
"I suppose you don't mean to make me editor also ?"
he added, rather jestingly; probably not dreaming that he
should ever conduct the publication.
"Not at present," was his brother's reply. "Printer.

52 Benjamin Franklin,

news-carrier, and collector, will be as much honour as you
can properly bear at once ;" and he had as little idea of the
part Benjamin would play in the work as the boy had
Accordingly the paper was issued at the appointed time,
creating quite a stir in the community, and provoking remarks
pro and con concerning its appearance, character, and pros-
pects. Agreeably to the arrangement, Benjamin delivered
the numbers to subscribers.
Among the friends of James Franklin, and the patrons
of his paper, were several men who possessed considerable
talent for writing, and they were accustomed to assemble at
the printing-office, and discuss questions connected with the
circulation of the paper. Benjamin's ears were usually open
to their conversation,-and he heard the merits of different
articles set forth, and learned that certain ones were quite
popular, and elicited favourable remarks from readers gene-
rally. This excited his ambition, and he earnestly desired to
try his own ability in writing for the paper. He feared, how-
ever, that his composition would not be regarded favourably,
if it were known who was the author; so he hit upon this
expedient. He resolved to write an anonymous article, in
his very best style, and get it into his brother's hand so as
not to awaken his suspicion. Accordingly, the article was
prepared, and at night it was slipped under the printing-
office door, where James found it in the morning. As
usual, several of his writers came in about their usual time,
and Benjamin had the happiness of hearing the following

tae Printer Boy. 53

"Here is a good article, that I found under the door this
morning," said James, at the same time holding it up.
Who is the author of it ?" inquired one.
"It is anonymous," replied James, and I have not the
least idea who wrote it."
"What is the subject ?" asked another; and the subject
was announced.
Let us hear it read," proposed a third. "You read it
aloud to us, James." So James proceeded to read the
article aloud, while all listened with deep interest. All the
while Benjamin was busily employed at his work, though his
ears were never more willing to hear. You may be sure
that he felt rather queerly while his composition was under-
going this test, and a close observer might have observed a
sly, comical twinkle of his eye. The reading went on
without one of the company dreaming that the author stood
at their elbow.
Capital I" exclaimed one, as the last line was read.
" Who can the author be ?"
"As a general thing," said James, "I shall not insert
articles from persons unknown to me, but this is so good
that I shall publish it."
"By all means," said one of the company. "We shall
soon find out the author; it is a difficult matter to keep such
things secret for a long time."
"The author is evidently a person of ability," added
another; "every sentence in that article is charged with
thought. I should judge that he wanted only culture to
make him a writer of the first class."

54 Benjamin Franklin,
"Publishing the article will be as likely as anything to
bring out the author," said James.
It was decided to print the article, all having approved of
the same, much to the satisfaction of Benjamin, who awaited
the decision with some anxiety. Now he scarcely knew how
to act in regard to the piece, whether to father it at once, or
still conceal its parentage. On the whole, however, he
decided to withhold its authorship for the present, and try
his hand again in the same way. Much encouraged by the
success of his first effort, Benjamin was prepared to produce
even a better article on the second trial, which was discussed
and approved in the same way as the first. Thus he wrote,
and put under the door at night, a number of articles, all of
which were pronounced good by James and his friends. It
was a time of much interest and excitement to Benjamin,
since he was the "unknown character" so much extolled by
the patrons of the "Courant." To hear his own articles
remarked upon and praised, when no one dreamed that a
boy like himself could be the author, was well suited to stir
up his feelings, if not to inflate his vanity. Many persons
in like circumstances would be allured into indiscretions and
improprieties. But Benjamin wisely kept his own counsel.
There is no doubt that this was one of the incidents of
Benjamin's boyhood that decided his future eminent career.
It was a good thing to bring out his talents as a writer thus
early, and it evidently fostered his love of an exercise that
was of the first importance in the improvement of his mind.
From the time that he wrote the first article which he put
under the door of the printing-office, he did not cease to

the Printer Boy, 55

write more or less for the public eye. The newspaper was
a channel of communicating with readers altogether new to
him. It was well suited to awaken deep interest in his
heart, and to incite him to put forth his best efforts.



BENJAMIN was so highly gratified with the favourable
remarks he heard about his articles, and especially that
different persons, in guessing who the author might be,
usually guessed some writer of distinction, that he could
keep the secret no longer. He was eager to make the fact
known, that the much talked of essays emanated from his
own pen; and soon, as the saying is, "let the cat out of
the bag."
Having a good opportunity, in reply to some remark of
James about the last article found under the door," he
said, I know who the author is."
You know ?" exclaimed James with surprise. Why
have you not disclosed it before ?"
"Because I thought it was not wise. It is not best to
tell all we know always."
"But you have heard us discuss this matter over and
over, and take measures to discover the author, and yet you
have never intimated that you knew anything about it."
Well, the author did not wish to be known until the

56 Benjamin Franklin,

right time came, and that is a good reason for keeping the
matter secret, I think."
Will you tell me who the author is now ?" asked James,
impatient to obtain the long-sought information.
Perhaps I will, if you are very anxious to know."
"You know that I am. Who is it ?"
It is Benjamin Franklin."
"What!" exclaimed James, astonished almost beyond
measure by the disclosure; "do you mean to say that you
wrote those articles?"
Certainly I do."
But it is not your handwriting."
I disguised my hand in order to conceal the authorship."
What could possibly be your object in doing so ?"
That the articles might be fairly examined. If I had
proposed to write an article for your paper, you would have
said that I, a printer-boy, could write nothing worthy of
Here the conversation dropped, and James appeared to
be abstracted in thought. He said but little about the
matter to Benjamin, neither commending nor censuring,
until his literary friends came in again.
I have discovered the author of those articles," said
You have ? who can it be ?" one asked.
No one that we have ever thought of," answered James.
Do tell us who it is, and put an end to our anxiety,"
said one of the number, who could hardly wait for the
desired information.

the Printer Boy. 57

"There he is," replied James, pointing to Benjamin, who
was setting up types a little more briskly than usual. The
whole company were amazed.
Can it be ?" cried out one. You are joking."
Now Benjamin had to speak for himself; for they all
turned to him with their inquiries, as if they thought there
must be some mistake or deception about the matter. But
he found little difficulty in convincing them that he was the
real author of the pieces; whereupon they commended him
in a manner that was rather perilous to one who had the
smallest share of pride in his heart.
From that time Benjamin was a favourite with the
literary visitors at the office. They shewed him much more
attention than they did James, and said so much in his
praise, as a youth of unusual promise, that James became
jealous and irritable. He was naturally passionate and
tyrannical, and this sudden and unexpected exaltation of
Benjamin developed his overbearing spirit. He began to
find fault seriously and unreasonably with him, and a dis-
position to oppress him was soon apparent. He went so far
as to beat him severely with a rod, on several occasions,
reconciling the matter with his conscience by saying that he
was master, and Benjamin was his apprentice. His whole
conduct towards his younger brother was unjust and cruel,
and the latter became restive and discontented under it.
He made known his grievances to his father, who censured
James for his conduct, and took the part of Benjamin. But
the best efforts of his father to reconcile matters proved
abortive, because James's manifest opposition was so aroused

58 Benjamin Franklin,

against his brother, on account of his sudden rise to com-
parative distinction. Other causes might have operated to
awaken James's hostility, but this was evidently a prominent
Benjamin was so dissatisfied with his treatment that he
resolved to leave his brother as soon as possible. He was
indentured to him, as we have seen, so that it was difficult
for him to get away. Being bound to him until he became
twenty-one years of age, the law held him firmly there, not-
withstanding the injustice he experienced. Still, for the
present, he laboured on in the office, and the newspaper con-
tinued to be issued.



"HAVE you heard what they are doing in the Assembly ?"
asked Benjamin one afternoon, as he entered the office under
considerable excitement, addressing his inquiry to James.
"Doing?" answered James; "doing their business, I
suppose ;"-a reply that did not indicate precisely his know-
ledge of the legislative doings, since he had heard of the
business before them, and was somewhat troubled by it.
They are certainly going to arrest you for libel, and I
heard a gentleman say, in the street, that they would shew
you no favour;" and Benjamin made this revelation with

the Printer Boy. 59

considerable warmth of feeling. The idea of his brother's
arrest and imprisonment excited him in no small degree.
On the same day the following order was passed in the
General Court:-
IN CouncIL, January 14, 1722.
"Whereas the paper, called the New England Courant,
of this day's date, contains many passages in which the
Holy Scriptures are perverted, and the Civil Government,
Ministers, and People of this Province highly reflected on,
Ordered, That William Tailer, Samuel Sewell, and Penn
Townsend, Esqrs., with such as the Honourable House ol
Representatives shall join, be a committee to consider and
report what is proper for the Court to do thereon."
The House of Representatives concurred, and the com-
mittee reported :-
That James Franklin, the printer and publisher thereof
(the Courant), be strictly forbidden by this Court to print or
publish the New England Courant, or any other pamphlet or
paper of the like nature, except it be first supervised by the
Secretary of this Province; and the Justices of his Majesty's
Sessions of the Peace for the County of Suffolk, at their
next adjournment, be directed to take sufficient bonds of the
said Franklin for twelve months' time."
The result was, that James was arrested and confined four
weeks in the stone gaol,' from which he was released by
his voluntary pledge to regard the honour of the Court.
Benjamin was arrested also; but was discharged on the
ground that he acted as an apprentice, and was obliged to
do the bidding of his master.

60 Benjamin Franklin,

It appears that at the time there was considerable dis-
satisfaction in the Province with the British government,
under which the people lived. The Courant espoused the
cause of the dissatisfied party, and, perhaps unwisely,
attacked the government and its officers, together with the
ministers of the Gospel, whose sympathies seemed to be with
the dominant party. It was a time of considerable excite-
ment, so that a little firebrand thrown into the community
was sure to make a great fire. But the immediate cause of
his arrest was the appearance of the following article in his
paper, which was a slur upon the government for tardiness
in fitting out a ship to cruise after a pirate seen off Block
Island. The article purported to be written by a correspon-
dent in Newport, R. I., and read thus:-
We are advised from Boston, that the government of th
Massachusetts are fitting out a ship to go after the pirates, to
be commanded by Captain Peter Papillon, and 'tis thought he
will sail some time this month, wind and weather permitting."
This well-pointed censure, in connexion with the many
flings and attacks that had preceded it, aroused the General
Court to act in their defence without delay.
The club, under whose auspices the Courant was conducted,
assembled at the office as soon as they knew the decision of
the Court, to consider what should be done.
It is certain," said one, that you cannot continue to
issue the paper against the action of the Court."
Not in his own name," suggested another. It may
still be published in the name of another person, and thus
the legislative order will be evaded."

the Printer Boy. 61

How will it do to issue it in Benjamin's name?"
inquired James.
That cannot be done, for he is only an apprentice, as
could be very readily proved," was the reply.
I can easily meet that difficulty," answered James, who
was usually ready for a shrewd evasion in such a case.
Pray, tell us how," asked one of the number, who was
disposed to think that the days of the Courant were num-
bered. By changing the name ?"
No, I would not change the name. I will return his
indenture, with his discharge upon the back of it, and he
can shew it in case of necessity. We can understand the
matter between us, while he will be his own man whenever
any trouble may arise about his apprenticeship.
All agreed that this plan would work well, and it was
accordingly adopted.
Benjamin Franklin, publisher and proprietor," said one
of the club, rising from his seat and patting Benjamin on
the shoulder. What do you think of that, my son?
Rather a young fellow to undertake such an enterprise 1"
Benjamin was quite unprepared to reply to the merriment
of the club on the occasion over his unexpected introduction
to an office of which he did not dream in the morning. He
was now to appear before the public in quite another relation
than that of apprentice,-probably the youngest conductor
of a newspaper who ever lived, for he was only sixteen
years of age.
Henceforth the paper appeared in the name of Benjamin
Franklin, occasioning, by all the circumstances, no little
excitement in the town, E

62 Benjamin Franklin,



NOT long after James was released from prison, a fresh
difficulty arose between Benjamin and himself. In the
quarrel they seemed to forget that they were brothers, who
ought to be united by strong ties of affection. James con-
tinued to be passionate and domineering, treating his brother
with harshness, sometimes even beating him, notwithstanding
he was the nominal publisher and editor of a paper. Ben-
jamin thought he was too old to be treated thus-whipped
like a little boy-and the result was that he asserted his
"I am my own man from this time," he cried, holding
up his indenture which his brother returned to him, as we
saw in a former chapter, in order to evade the officers of
justice. These papers make me free, and I shall take
advantage of them to leave you."
You know that I never gave them up because I
relinquished the bargain we had made," said James. "If
you use them to assert your freedom, you will be guilty of a
base act."
I shall so use the papers," replied Benjamin, defiantly.
"I have borne such treatment long enough, and I shall
submit no longer."
"We shall see about that," continued James. Father
will have a word to say about it, you will find."
Yes, and he will probably say that you have abused me.

the Printer Boy. 63

and that you ought to control your temper and treat me
better," responded Benjamin. "He always has decided in
my favour, and I have no fears about his decision now."
It was not fair in Benjamin to take this advantage of his
brother, and he knew it, but his resentment triumphed over
his regard for right at the time. James returned his
indenture only that he might be able to publish the paper
unmolested. It was a deceitful arrangement in the first
place, and Benjamin's use of the papers to assert his liberty
was no more unfair and sinful than was James's device to
make him the proprietor of the paper, and thus evade the
law. James was paid in his own coin. He laid a plan to
cheat the government, and he got cheated himself. He was
snared in the work of his own hands. This, however, did
not justify Benjamin in his course, as he afterwards saw,
and frankly confessed.
Benjamin persisted in asserting his freedom, and James
appealed to his father. After the latter had examined the
affair, all the while knowing that James was passionate and
overbearing, he decided against Benjamin. The advantage
which the latter took of James to gain his freedom probably
influenced Mr Franklin to decide in favour of the former.
This was unexpected by Benjamin, and was not received
with a very good grace. It did not change his determina-
tion, however, and he was still resolved to be free. He
refused to labour any more for his brother, and went forth
to look for employment elsewhere. There were a number
of other printers in the town, to whom he applied for work;
but he found, to his surprise, that his brother had antici-

64 Benjamin Franklin,

pated him, and been round to persuade them not to hire
"He has violated a solemn contract," said he to one,
"and he will violate any contract he will make with you.
Besides, if you refuse to hire him, he will be obliged to
return and labour for me."
The printers all sympathised with James, and accordingly
refused to give Benjamin work. He found himself in a very
unpleasant situation on that account, without the means of
earning his bread, and, in one sense, without a home, since
he had disregarded his father's counsel in not returning to
his brother. He learned, also, that some good people con.
sidered him no better than an infidel.
Nothing less than the loosest sceptic," said one good
man. He hates the truth with all his heart, as much
that he writes plainly shews. His influence in the commu-
nity is very bad, and it is growing worse and worse."
Good people thus misjudged Benjamin. Some went so
far as to call him an atheist." His attacks upon the
clergy and government, in his paper, created so much
excitement, that he was understood to mean worse than he
All these things served to wean Benjamin from Boston,
and he decided on seeking his fortune elsewhere. He
embraced the first opportunity to confer with his old friend
John Collins, on the subject.
"John, I am going to New York," he said.
To New York ? exclaimed John. What has started
you off there ?"

the Printer Boy. 65

"Enough to start anybody. I have been ill-used long
enough, and can get no new work in Boston, so I must go
or starve."
How so ?" inquired John, I don't understand
you ?"
"The case is just this," said Benjamin. James has
treated me very harshly for a long time, and I have sub-
mitted. But I had a good opportunity to make myself free,
and I have improved it. When James was put into prison
for libel, he returned me my indenture with a discharge
written on the back, to shew in case the government inter-
fered with my publishing the paper. He did not mean, of
course, that I should be released from my obligations to
him; but he has treated me so unmercifully, lately, that I
have taken advantage of the paper, and broken my engage-
ment with him."
"You have got round him this time, certainly," said
John. "How does he feel about it ?"
He has appealed to father, and father has decided
against me, and advised me to go back; but I am not at all
disposed to do it."
"I would work in some other printing-office," added
John, "before I would go to New York."
"But I cannot get work anywhere else. I have been to
every office, and they all refuse to employ me because my
brother went to them before me, and told his story, and
made them promise not to hire me."
"I suppose he thought by so doing to compel you to
come back to him," suggested John.

66 Benjamin Franklin,

I suppose so; but he will find himself mistaken. I
shall go to New York as soon as I can get away."
"What does your father say about your going off so
far ?"
I have said nothing to him about it, and do not intend
to do so. He would stop my going at once if he knew it."
How can you get away without letting him know it ? "
"That remains to be seen," answered Benjamin. "1
shall want some of your help about it."
"I am at your service," said John, "though it seems
very little that I can do to hasten your flight;" but he had
hardly uttered the last sentence before a new thought flashed
upon his mind, and he added, with great earnestness, Yes,
I can, too; I have seen the captain of that New York sloop
in the harbour, and I can make a bargain with him to take
you there."
But he will want to know who I am, and will refuse to
take me when he finds that I am a runaway."
I can manage that, if you will leave it to me," answered
John. "I will pledge you that he will never know that
your name is Franklin."
I agree, then, to commit myself to your care. See that
you manage the affair well, for to New York I must go."
They parted; and John hurried away to see the aforesaid
After a long conversation with Collins, the captain con-
sented to carry Benjamin to New York. He arranged to
receive him clandestinely, and to have him on his way
before any suspicion of his plans was awakened.

the Printer Boy. 67

John hastened to inform Benjamin of the success of his
enterprise, and to congratulate him upon his fair prospects
Df getting away.
Money is the next thing," said Benjamin. I can't
go without money. I must sell my books for something,
though I dislike to part with them."
They will sell quick enough," said John, "and will
bring you a very pretty sum to start with."
Benjamin lost no time in disposing of his little library for
what it would bring, and he managed to get his clothes
together without exciting suspicion; and, with the assist-
ance of John, he got on board privately, just before the
vessel sailed.
"Good luck to you, Ben," said John, as they shoob
"Good by," answered Benjamin, with a heavy heart,
just beginning to feel that he was going away from home,
"See that you tell no tales out of school."
Thus they parted; and the sloop sailed for New York,
where she arrived in three days. Benjamin did not knom
a person in that city, nor had he a single letter of recom-
mendation to any one, and the money in his pocket was but
a trifle. It was in October, 1723, that he arrived in New
York. Think of a lad seventeen years of age running
away from home, entering a large city without a solitary
acquaintance, and possessing scarcely money enough to pay
for a week's board I He must have carried some sad,
lonely feelings in his heart along those strange streets, and
possibly his conscience sorely upbraided him for his course.

68 Benjamin Franklin,

Benjamin behaved very unwisely and wickedly in this
affair. Although his brother was severely harsh in his
treatment of him, it was not sufficient reason for his running
away from home, and he was thoroughly convinced of this at
an early day. Such an act is one of the most flagrant sins
that a youth can commit, although circumstances may
render it less guilty in some cases than in others. In the
case of Benjamin, the unkind treatment which he received
at the hand of his brother mitigated his sin, though it by
no means excused it.
There is not a more unpleasant occurrence in the whole
life of Benjamin Franklin than this quarrel with his brother.
We charge the difficulty mainly upon James, of course;
but this does not blot out the unpleasantness of the affair.
A quarrel between brothers is always painful in the extreme,
and is discreditable to all parties concerned.
At this crisis of Benjamin's life, it seemed as if he was
on the highway to ruin. There is scarcely one similar case
in ten, where the runaway escapes the vortex of degrada-
tion. Benjamin would not have been an exception, but for
his early religious culture and the grace of God.



ON arriving at New York, Benjamin applied to a well-known
printer, Mr William Bradford, for work.

the Printer Boy. 69

"Where are you from ?" he inquired.
"From Boston," was Benjamin's reply.
"* Are you used to the printing business ?"
"Yes, that is my trade. I have worked at it several
"I am sorry I cannot employ you. Just now my business
is small, and I have all the help I need."
What do you think of the prospect of getting work at
some other office in the town ?" inquired Benjamin.
"Not very flattering, I am sorry to say. Dull times,
my son, very dull indeed. But I can tell you where you
can find employment, I think. My son carries on the print-
ing business in Philadelphia, and one of his men died the
other day. I think he would be glad to employ you."
"How far is it to Philadelphia ?"
"It is a hundred miles," replied Mr Bradford; a much
shorter distance than you have already travelled."
Benjamin looked somewhat disappointed when he found
that Philadelphia was a hundred miles farther; still, he was
after work, and he was determined to find it; so he made
inquiries about the mode of conveyance, and left Mr Brad-
ford, thanking him for his kindness. He immediately made
arrangements to proceed to Philadelphia. He was less dis-
heartened, probably, on account of the assurance of Mr
Bradford that his son would employ him. If he could pro-
cure work by travelling a hundred miles more, he would
cheerfully do it, although a journey of a hundred miles then
was about equal to one thousand now.
At the appointed time Benjamin went aboard, and the

70 Benjamin Franklin,

boat started. She had not proceeded far when a squall
struck her, tore her rotten sails to pieces, and drove het
upon an island. Before this, however, a drunken Dutch-
man, who was also a passenger, fell overboard, and woulO
have lost his life but for the timely assistance of our printer-
boy. Springing to the side of the boat, Benjamin reached
over and seized him by the hair of his head as he rose, and
drew him on board.
He may thank you for saving his life," exclaimed one
of the boatmen.
He is too drunk for that," answered Benjamin. It
will sober him a little, however, I think.
The Dutchman mumbled over something, and pulling a
book out of his pocket, asked Benjamin to dry it for him,
which he promised to do. Soon the poor, miserable fellow
was fast asleep, in spite of the wet and danger, and Ben-
jamin examined the drenched volume, which proved to be
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, a favourite book of
his a few years before. It was a very good companion for
even a drunken Dutchman to have; but Benjamin could not
but think that its contents were not so familiar to the un-
fortunate possessor as the bottle.
On approaching Long Island they found that there was
no place to land, and the beach was very stony; so they
dropped anchor, and swung out their cable towards the
shore." Some men came down to the shore and hallooed to
them, and they returned the shout. Seeing some small boats
lying along the shore, they cried out as loudly as possible,
" A boat t a boat I" and made signs to them to come to their

the Printer Boy. 71

assistance; but the wind was so boisterous that neither party
could understand the other.
After several fruitless attempts on both sides to be heard,
and night coming on, the men on the shore went home, and
left Benjamin and the boatmen to their perils.
The cold dreary night wore away slowly, and the wind
continued to howl, and the breakers to dash and roar, until
after the dawn of the following morning. Benjamin was
never more rejoiced to see daylight appear than he was, after
that dismal and perilous night. It was the more pleasant to
him, because the wind began to abate, and there was a fairer
prospect of reaching their place of destination. As soon as
the tumult of the wind and waves had subsided, they weighed
anchor, and steered for Amboy, where they arrived just be.
fore night.
In the evening Benjamin found himself feverish, having
taken a severe cold by the exposure of the previous night.
With a hot head and a heavy heart he retired to rest, first,
however, drinking largely of cold water, because he had
somewhere read that cold water was good for fever. This
was one of the advantages he derived from his early habit of
reading. But for his taste for reading, which led him to
spend his leisure moments in poring over books, he might
never have known this important fact, which perhaps saved
him a fit of sickness. Availing himself of this knowledge,
ho drank freely of water before he retired, and the conse-
quence was, that he perspired freely during most of the night,
and arose the next morning comparatively well.
In the morning he was ready for another start on his

72 Benjamin Franklin,

journey. Burlington was fifty miles from Amboy, and
there was no public conveyance, so that he was obliged to go
on foot, expecting to find a boat there bound for Philadelphia.
It was raining hard, and yet he started upon the journey,
and trudged on through the storm and mud, eager to see
Burlington. He was thoroughly drenched before he had
travelled five miles, and, in this condition, he walked
on rapidly till noon, when he came to a "poor inn," and
stopped. Being wet and tired, he resolved to remain there
until the next day. The innkeeper's suspicions were awak-
ened by Benjamin's appearance, and he questioned him
rather closely.
Benjamin saw that he was suspected of being a runaway,
and he felt very uncomfortable. He managed, however, to
answer all questions without satisfying the curiosity of
the family. He ate and slept there, and on the following
morning proceeded on his journey, and by night was within
eight or ten miles of Burlington. Here he stopped at an
inn kept by one Dr Brown, a perambulating doctor. He was
a very social and observing man, and soon discovered that
Benjamin was a youth of unusual intelligence for one of his
age. He conversed with him freely about Boston and othez
places, and gave a particular account of some foreign
countries which he had visited. In this way he made
Benjamin's brief stay with him very pleasant, and they
became friends for life, meeting many times thereafter on
hiendly terms.
The next morning he reluctantly bade the doctor good-
bye, and proceeded to Burlington, where he expected to find

the Printer Boy. 73

a boat. In the suburbs of the town he bought some ginger-
bread of an old woman who kept a shop, and walked on,
eating it as he went. To his great disappointment, on
reaching the wharf, he found the boat had gone, and there
would not be another until Tuesday. However, on walk-
ing on the quay in the afternoon, he came upon a chance
boat which was bound for Philadelphia. He made a
bargain with the master of it to convey him there; and after
a very stormy passage arrived safe in Philadelphia early on
the following morning.
Benjamin on his arrival was very tired and hungry, having
eaten nothing since he dined in Burlington, on the day
before, and he hastened to a baker's shop which he saw
"Have you biscuit ?" he inquired, meaning such as he
was accustomed to eat in Boston.
"We make nothing of the kind," answered the pro-
"You may give me a threepenny loaf, then."
We have none."
Benjamin began to think that he should have to go
hungry still, since he did not know the names or prices of
the kinds of bread made in Philadelphia. But in a moment
he recovered himself, and said, "Then give me three-
penny-worth of any sort."
To his surprise the baker gave him three great large rolls,
enough to satisfy half a dozen hungry persons. He looked
at it, scarcely knowing at first what he could do with so
much, but, as "necessity is the mother of invention," he

74 Benjamin Franklin,
soon discovered a way of disposing of it. He put a roll
under each arm, and taking a third in his hand he proceeded
to eat it, as he continued his walk up the street.
Let the reader stop here, and imagine Benjamin Frank-
lin, the runaway youth, as he made his first appearance in
the city of Philadelphia. See him trudging up the street
with his worn, dirty clothes (his best suit having been sent
round by sea), his pockets stuffed out with shirts and
stockings, and a large roll under each arm, and a third in
his hand, of which he is eating A comical appearance
certainly I It is not very probable that this runaway
Benjamin will ever become Minister Plenipotentiary to the
Court of France," or surprise the world by his philosophical
discoveries I There is much more probability that he will
live in some obscure printing-office, and die, "unwept,
unhonoured, and unsung." Who wonders that a young
lady, Miss Read, who was standing in the door of her
father's residence as Benjamin passed, thought he made a
very awkward and ridiculous appearance ? She little thought
she was taking a bird's-eye view of her future husband, as
the youth with the rolls of bread under his arm proved to
be. But just then he cared more for bread than he did for
her; some years after, the case was reversed, and he cared
more for her than he did for bread.
Turning round a corner he continued to walk until he
came round to the wharf, where he landed. Being thirsty,
he went to the boat for water, where he found a woman and
child who came down the river with them on the previous
night, waiting to go farther.

the Printer Boy. 75

"Are you hungry ?" he inquired of the child, who looked
wistfully at his bread.
We are both very hungry," answered the woman, speak-
ing for herself and child.
"I have satisfied my hunger," said Benjamin, and you
may have the rest of my bread if you would like it," at the
same time passing both rolls to her.
You are very kind indeed," responded the woman. I
thank you much for it;"-all of which was as good pay for
the bread as Benjamin wanted. This was an instance of
the generosity for which he was distinguished throughout
his whole life.
He then walked up the street again, and found well-
dressed people going to church. Joining in the current,
notwithstanding his appearance, he went with them into the
large Quaker meeting-house that stood near the market.
He took his seat, and waited for the service to begin,
either not knowing what Quakers did at meeting, or else
being ignorant that he was among this sect. As nothing
was said, and he was weary and exhausted with the labours
and watching of the previous night, he became drowsy, and
soon dropped into a sweet sleep. His nap might have
proved a very unfortunate event for him, but for the kind-
ness of a wide-awake Quaker. For he did not wake up when
the meeting closed, and the congregation might have dis-
persed, and the sexton locked him in, without disturbing his
slumbers. But the kind-hearted Quaker moved his spirit by
giving him a gentle rap on the shoulder. He started up,
somewhat surprised that the service was over, and passed

76 Benjamin Franklin,

out with the crowd. Soon after, meeting a fine-looking
young Quaker, who carried his heart in his face, Benjamin
inquired, Can you tell me where a stranger can get a
night's lodging?"
Here," answered the Quaker, is a house where they
receive strangers (pointing to the sign of the Three
Mariners near which they stood), "but it is not a reputable
one; if thee will walk with me I will shew thee a better
I will be obliged to you for doing so," answered Ben-
jamin. I was never in Philadelphia before, and am not
acquainted with one person here."
The Quaker conducted him to Water Street, and shewed
him the Crooked Billet,-a house where he might be
accommodated. Benjamin thanked him for his kindness,
entered the house, and called for dinner and a room.
While sitting at the dinner table, his host asked, Where
are you from ?"
I am from Boston."
"Boston I" exclaimed the host, with some surprise.
"How long since you left home ?"
This question being answered, he continued, Have you
friends in Philadelphia ?"
None at all. I do not know a single person here."
"What did you come here for ? "
"I came to get work in a printing-office. I am a printer
by trade."
"How old are you ?"
I am seventeen years old, sir," replied Benjamin, just

the Printer Boy. 77

beginning to perceive that the man suspected him of being
a runaway.
"And came all the way from Boston alone ?"
"Yes, sir."
Benjamin closed the conversation as soon as he could
conveniently, after perceiving that his appearance had ex-
cited suspicions, and went to his room, where he lay down
and slept till six o'clock in the evening, when he was called
to supper. He went to bed again very early, and was soon
locked in the embrace of "nature's sweet restorer, balmy



AFTER a good night's sleep, Benjamin arose and dressed
himself as neatly as he could with his old clothes, and re-
paired to Andrew Bradford's printing-office.
"Ah! then you have arrived," said an old gentleman,
rising to salute him as he entered. I reached here first."
Benjamin was surprised to meet the old printer whom he
saw in New York, and who had directed him to his son,
Andrew Bradford, of Philadelphia. "I did not expect to
meet you here," said he.
"I suppose not. I started off unexpectedly, and came
all the way on horseback. But I am glad that you have
reached here safely. This is a young man from Boston"

78 Benjamin Franklin,

(addressing his son and introducing Benjamin), after work
in a printing-office, and I directed him to you. Franklin is
your name, I believe."
"Yes, sir. Benjamin Franklin."
Mr Bradford received him very cordially, and being about
to eat breakfast, he said, Come, it is my breakfast-hour,
and you shall be welcome to the table. We can talk this
matter over at the table ;"-and Benjamin accepted the in-
"I told this young man," said the old printer from New
York, "that one of your men died a short time since, and
you would want a printer to take his place."
That is true," replied Mr Andrew Bradford. I did
want another hand to take his place, but I hired one only a
few days since. I am sorry to disappoint this youth who
has come so far for work."
"Is there another printing-office here ?" asked Benjamin.
"Yes; a man by the name of Keimer has just commenced
the business, and I think he would be glad to employ you."
"I must get work somewhere," added Benjamin, for I
have spent nearly all my money in getting here."
If he will not employ you," added Mr Bradford, kindly,
"you may lodge at my house, and I will give you a little
work from time to time until business is better."
That will be a great favour to me," answered Benjamin,
"for which I shall be very thankful;" and he really felt
more grateful to Mr Bradford for the offer than his words
I will go with you to see Mr Keimer," said old Mr

the Printer Boy. 79

Bradford from New York. "Perhaps I can be of some
service to you in securing a place."
Benjamin began to think he had fallen into very obliging
hands; so he followed their advice, and went with his aged
friend to see the newly-established printer. On arriving at
the office, they met Mr Keimer, and old Mr Bradford intro-
duced their business by saying, Neighbour, I have brought
to see you a young man of your business ; perhaps you may
want such a one."
"That depends on his qualifications," answered Mr
Keimer. How long have you worked at the business?"
he inquired, turning to Benjamin.
Several years, sir."
Do you understand all parts of it, so that you can go on
with it?"
I think I do; you can try me and satisfy yourself."
Take this composing-stick, and let me see whether you
are competent or not," said Keimer.
Benjamin proceeded to exhibit his skill at the work, and
very soon satisfied Keimer that he had told the truth.
Very well done," said Keimer. I will employ you as
soon as I have sufficient work to warrant such a step. At
present I have nothing for you to do."
Here Benjamin saw the advantage of having attended to
his business closely, so as to learn thoroughly the work he
was to do. Some boys perform their work in just a pass-
able way, not caring particularly whether it is well done, if
they can only pass muster." But not so with Benjamin.
Uu sought to understand the business to which he attended,

8o Benjamin Franklin,

and to do as well as possible the work he undertook. The
consequence was, that he was a thorough workman, and in
five minutes he was able to satisfy Keimer of the fact.
This was greatly in his favour; and such a young man is
never long out of business.
Keimer ultimately engaged Franklin, and went to board
with Mr Read, the father of the young lady who stood in the
door when he passed on the morning of his arrival, with a
roll of bread under each arm, and who afterwards became
his wife.



FOR some time Benjamin lived contentedly in Philadelphia,
striving to forget Boston and old familiar scenes as much as
possible. No one at home knew of his whereabouts, except
his old friend Collins, who kept the secret well. One day,
however, a letter came to his address, and the superscription
looked so familiar that Benjamin's hand fairly trembled as
he broke the seal. It proved to be from his brother-in-law,
Robert Homes, "master of a sloop that traded between
Boston and Delaware." He came to Newcastle, it seems,
about forty miles from Philadelphia, and hearing of Benja-
niin's place of residence, he sat down and wrote him a
letter, telling him of the deep sorrow into which his dcpar-

the Printer Boy 81

ture had plunged his parents, who still were wholly
ignorant of his fate, and exhorting him to return home to
his friends, who would welcome him kindly. The letter was
a strong appeal to his feelings.
Benjamin sat down and replied to the letter, stating his
reasons in full for leaving Boston, giving an account of his
present circumstances and prospects, and closing by express-
ing kind feelings for all the loved ones at home, but declin-
ing to return.
Not many days after Benjamin wrote and sent his letter,
an unusual scene transpired at the office. He was at work
near the window, when, on looking out, he saw a gentleman
in uniform approaching.
"That is the Governor," said Keimer.
"He is coming in," said Franklin.
Keimer looked out at the window, and saw that it was so,
whereupon he hurried down to the door, not a little excited
by the thought of waiting upon the Governor, supposing, of
course, that he was coming in to see him.
Does Benjamin Franklin work for you ?" inquired the
He does," answered Keimer, both astonished and per-
plexed by the inquiry. What he could want of him he
could not imagine.
Can I see him ? asked the Governor.
"Certainly; walk in." The Governor and Colonel
French, who was with him, were ushered into the presence
of Benjamin.
I am happy to make the acquaintance of a young man

82 Benjamin Franklin,

of your abilities," he said to him. I regret that you did
not report yourself to me long ago."
Benjamin was too much astonished at the unexpected
interview to be able to reply; and the Governor went on to
say that he called to invite him to an interview at the
tavern." Benjamin was more perplexed than ever, and
Keimer stared with amazement. But after some hesitation,
arising from sudden surprise, Benjamin consented to go with
the Governor, and was soon seated with him and Colonel
French in a room of the tavern.
I called to see you," said the Governor, respecting
the printing business in this town. I understand that you
are well acquainted with it in all its branches, and, from my
knowledge of your abilities, I think you would succeed
admirably in setting up the business for yourself. Our
printers here are ignorant and inefficient, and we must have
more competent men to do the government work."
How the Governor knew so much about his qualifications
ftr the business, Benjamin could not divine. He replied,
however, I have nothing to commence business with, and it
will require some capital. My father might assist me if he
were disposed; but I have no reason to think that he would."
I will write to him upon the subject," said the Gover-
nor, and perhaps he may be persuaded. I can shew him
the advantages of such an enterprise to yourself and the
public, so that he cannot doubt the practicability of the
There are two printers here already," continued Ben-
jamin ; and a third one would hardly be supported."

the Printer Boy. 83

"A third one, who understands the business as you do,"
responded the Governor, would command the chief busi-
ness of the town in a short time. I will pledge you all the
public printing of the government."
And I will pledge the same for the government of Dela-
vare," said Colonel French of Newcastle.
"There can be no doubt on this point," continued
Governor Keith. You had better decide to return to
Boston by the first vessel, and take a letter from me to your
I will so decide at once, if such is your judgment in the
matter," replied Benjamin.
"Then it is understood," added his Excellency, "that
you will repair to Boston in the first vessel that sails. In
the meantime, you must continue to work for Mr Keimer,
keeping the object of this interview a profound secret."
Having made this arrangement, they separated, and Ben-
jamin returned to the printing-office, scarcely knowing how
he should evade the anticipated inquisitiveness of Keimer
respecting the interview; but he succeeded in keeping the
secret. His mind, however, laboured much upon the ques-
tion, how Governor Keith should know anything about him,
a poor obscure printer-boy. It was not until he returned to
Boston that this mystery was solved. Then he learned that
Keith was present at Newcastle when his brother-in-law
received his (Benjamin's) letter, and Captain Homes read
it aloud to him.
How old is he ?" asked the Governor.
"Seventeen," replied Captain Homes.

84 Benjamin Franklin,

Only seventeen I I am surprised that a youth of that
age should write so well. He must be an uncommon boy.'
Captain Homes assured him that he was a very competent
youth, and possessed abilities that qualified him for almost
any place. Here was the secret of Keith's interest in the
printer-boy, but of which the latter knew nothing until he
met his brother-in-law in Boston.
Before an opportunity offered for Benjamin to go to
Boston, Governor Keith frequently sent for him to dine with
him, on which occasions he conversed with him in a very
friendly and familiar way. It was quite unusual for a boy of
seventeen years to become the frequent guest of a Governor,
and no wonder he was almost bewildered by the unexpected
attention. Some would have become vain and proud in
consequence of such attentions; but Benjamin bore the
honours meekly.
About the end of April, 1724, a small vessel offered for
Boston. Benjamin made arrangements to go, took leave of
Keimer as if going to visit his friends, and, with Keith's
letter to his father, sailed. The vessel had a boisterous
time at sea, but after a fortnight's voyage she entered
Boston harbour. Benjamin had been absent seven months,
and his parents had not heard a word from him. His
brother-in-law had not returned from Newcastle, nor written
to them about his knowledge of Benjamin. The reader
may well imagine, then, that he took them all by surprise.
His poor mother had laid his absence to heart so much,
that it had worn upon her, and his return was to her almost
like life from the dead. She was overjoyed, and no lan.

the Printer Boy. 85

guage could express her delight as she looked into the face
of her long-lost Benjamin. His father was not less rejoiced,
although he had a different way of shewing it. Indeed,
all the family, except his brother James, gave him a most
cordial and affectionate welcome. He did not return ragged
and penniless, as runaways generally do, but he was clad
in a new and handsome suit, carried a watch in his pocket,
and had about five pounds sterling, in silver, in his purse.
He never looked half so genteel and neat in his life, and
certainly never commanded so much money at one time
Before his brother James heard of his arrival, Benjamin
hastened to the printing-office, and startled him by suddenly
standing before him. James stopped his work, saluted him
in rather a reserved manner, and, after surveying him from
head to foot, turned to his work again. It was rather a
cold reception on the whole, but not altogether unexpected
to Benjamin. A brother who had driven him away by his
harsh treatment could hardly be expected to welcome him
back with a warm heart.
Benjamin took the first opportunity to make known to
his father the object and circumstances of his visit home, and
to hand him the Governor's letter, which he received with
manifest surprise, though he evidently doubted whether it
was genuine. For several days he entered into no conver-
sation about the matter, as he did not exactly know what to
make of it. Just then Captain Homes returned, and Mr
Franklin shewed him the letter of Governor Keith, and
inquired if he knew the man.

86 Benjamin Franklin,

"I have met him," replied Captain Homes, "and was
pleased with his appearance. I think it would be well for
Benjamin to follow his advice."
He cannot be a man of much discretion," continued Mr
Franklin, "to think of setting up a boy in business who
lacks three years of arriving at his majority. The project
does not strike me favourably at all."
He was much taken with Benjamin's abilities," added
Captain Homes, by a letter which I received from him at
Newcastle, and which I read to him, as he was present when
I received it."
"His letters may be well enough, for aught I know; but
a youth of his age, though his abilities be good, has not
sufficient judgment to conduct business for himself. I shall
not give my consent to such a wild scheme."
Mr Franklin replied to Governor Keith's letter, and
thanked him kindly for the patronage he offered his son,
but declining to set up a youth in a business of so much
"* I am rejoiced," said he to Benjamin, just before the
latter started to go back, that you have conducted your-
self so well as to secure the esteem of Sir William Keith.
Your appearance, too, shews that you have been industrious
and economical, all of which pleases me very much. 1
should advise you to go back, and think no more of going
into business for yourself until you are of age. By industry,
economy, and perseverance, you will be able to command the
means of establishing business then. As yet you are too
young. I should be glad to have you remain here with

the Printer Boy. 87

your brother, if he could be reconciled to you; but as it is,
you shall have my approbation and blessing in returning to
It was during this visit to Boston that he called upon the
celebrated Dr Increase Mather, to whose preaching he had
been accustomed to listen. The Doctor received him
kindly, and introduced him into his library, where they
chatted in a familiar way for some time. When Benjamin
rose to go out, Come this way," said the Doctor, I
will shew you a nearer passage out,"-pointing him to a
narrow passage, with a beam crossing it overhead. They
were still talking, the Doctor following behind, and Ben-
jamin partly turned around toward him.
Stoop stoop I" shouted the Doctor.
Benjamin did not understand what he meant, until his
head struck against the beam with considerable force.
"There," said the Doctor, laughing, you are young,
and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it,
and you may miss many hard thumps."
Nearly seventy years after, the recipiait of this counsel
"This advice, thus beaten into my head, has frequently
been of use to me; and I often think of it when I see
pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by
their carrying their heads too high."
On his return to Philadelphia, Benjamin immediately
sought an interview with Governor Keith, and told him the
result of his visit home, and gave his father's reasons for
declining to assist him.

88 Benjamin Franklin,

"But since he will not set you up," said the Governor
"I will do it myself. Give me an inventory of the things
necessary to be had from England, and I will send for them.
You shall repay me when you are able; I am resolved to
have a good printer here, and I am sure you must succeed.'
This was said with such apparent cordiality that Benjamin
did not doubt that he meant just what he affirmed, so he
yielded to his suggestion to make out an inventory ot
necessary articles. In the meantime he went to work for



Ar the earliest opportunity, Benjamin presented the Gover.
nor with a list of the articles necessary in setting up the
printing business.
"And what will be the probable expense of all these ?'
inquired the Governor.
"About one hundred pounds sterling, as nearly as I car.
estimate," he replied.
But would it not prove an advantage for you to be there
yourself, to select the types, and see that everything is
good ?"
I suppose it would, though such a thing as going to
England is scarcely possible with me."

the Printer Boy. 89

That remains to be seen," continued Governor Keith.
" Another advantage of your being there is, that you could
form acquaintances, and establish correspondence in the
tookselling and stationery line."
That would certainly be an advantage," replied Ben-
Then get yourself ready to go in the Annis," said the
Governor. The Annis was a ship that sailed between
Philadelphia and London once a-year, and the only one at
that time which performed this voyage. Instead of there
being scores of vessels sailing between these two ports, as
now, there was only this solitary one, going and returning
once a-ycar.
It is not necessary to prepare immediately," answered
Benjamin, since it is several months before the Annis will
True ; I only meant that you should be in readiness
when the ship sails. It will be necessary for you still to
keep the matter secret while you continue to work for
The time approached for the Annis to sail, and Ben-
jamin began to realize the trial of leaving his friends. A
new tie now bound him to Philadelphia. A mutual affec-
tion existed between Miss Read and himself, and it had
ripened into sincere and ardent love. He desired a formal
engagement with her before his departure, but her mother
interposed, and after a serious conversation the matter was
delayed until his return.
As the time of his departure drew near, Benjamin

g9 Benjamin Franklin,

called upon the Governor for letters of introduction and
credit, which he had promised, but they were not ready.
He called again, and they were still unwritten. At last, just
as he was leaving, he called at his door, and his secretary,
Dr Baird, came out, and said, The Governor is engaged
upon important business now, but he will be at Newcastle
before the Annis reaches there, and will deliver the letters
to you there."
As soon as they reached Newcastle, Benjamin went to the
Governor's lodgings for the letters, but was told by his
secretary that he was engaged, and should be under the
necessity of sending the letters to him on board the ship,
before she weighed anchor. Benjamin was somewhat puzzled
by this unexpected turn of affairs, but he did not dream of
deception or dishonesty. He returned to the vessel, and
awaited her departure. Soon after her canvas was flung to
the breeze, he went to the captain and inquired for the letters.
"I understand," said he, "that Colonel French brought
letters on board from the Governor. I suppose some of them
are directed to my care."
Yes," replied the captain, Colonel French brought a
parcel of letters on board, and they were all put into the
bag with others, so that I cannot tell whether any of them
are for you or not. But you shall have an opportunity, be-
fore we reach England, of looking them over for yourself."
I thank you," answered Benjamin; that will be all that
is necessary." And he yielded himself up to enjoyment for
the remainder of the voyage, without the least suspicion of
disappointment and trouble.

the Printer Boy. 91

When they entered the English Channel, the captain,
true to his promise, allowed Benjamin to examine the bag
of letters. He found several on which his name was written,
as under his care, and some others he judged, from the
handwriting, came from the Governor. One of them was
addressed to Baskett, the King's printer, and another to a
stationer, and these two, Benjamin was confident, were for
him to take. In all he took seven or eight from the bag.
They arrived in London on the 24th of December 1724,
when Benjamin lacked about a month of being nineteen
years old. Soon after he landed, he called upon the sta-
tioner to whom one of the letters was directed: A letter,
sir, from Governor Keith, of Pennsylvania, America I"
"I don't know such a person," replied the stationer, at
the same time receiving the letter.
Oh, this is from Riddlesden !" said he, on opening it. "I
have lately found him to be a complete rascal, and I will
have nothing to do with him, nor receive any letters from
him." And he handed back the letter to Benjamin, turned
upon his heel and left, to wait upon a customer.
Benjamin was astonished and mortified. Ho had not the
least suspicion that he was bearing any other than the
Governor's letter, and he was almost bewildered for a mo-
ment. The thought flashed into his mind that the Governor
had deceived him. In a few moments his thoughts brought
together the acts of the Governor in the matter, and now he
could see clearly evidence of insincerity and duplicity. He
immediately sought out Mr Denham, a merchant, who came
over in the Annis with him, and gave him a history of the affair,

92 Benjamin Franklin,

Governor Keith is a notorious deceiver," said Mr Den.
ham. I do not think he wrote a single letter for you, nor
intended to do it. He has been deceiving you from begin-
ning to end."
He pretended to have many acquaintances here," added
Benjamin, "to whom he promised to give me letters oi
credit, and I supposed that they would render me valuable
Letters of credit I" exclaimed Denham. "It is a ludi-
crous idea. How could he write letters of credit, when he
has no credit of his own to give 2 No one who knows him
has the least confidence in his character. There is no
dependence to be placed upon him in anything. He is
entirely irresponsible."
What, then, shall I do ?" asked Benjamin, with evident
concern. Here I am among strangers, without tle means
of returning, and what shall I do ?"
I advise you to get employment in a printing-office here
for the present. Among the printers here you will improve
yourself, and when you return to America, you will set up
to greater advantage."
There was no alternative left for Benjamin but no find
work where he could, and make the best of it. Again he
had paid too dear for the whistle," and must suffer foi it.
He took lodgings in Little Britain, at three shillings and
sixpence a-week, and very soon obtained work, where he
laboured nearly a-year.
At this time, the ability to compose, which he had care-
fully nurtured, proved of crcat assistance to him. He was

the Printer Boy. 93

employed in the printing of Wollaston's Religion of Na-
ture," when he took exceptions to some of his reasoning, and
wrote a dissertation thereon, and printed it, with the title,
aND PAIN." This pamphlet fell into the hands of one
Lyons, a surgeon, author of a book, entitled, The Infalli-
bility of Human Judgment," and he was so much pleased
with it, that he sought out the author, and shewed him
marked attention. He introduced him to Dr Mandeville,
author of the Fable of the Bees," and to Dr Pemberton,
who promised to take him to see Sir Isaac Newton. Sir
Hans Sloane invited him to his house in Bloomsbury
Square, and shewed him all his curiosities. In this way,
the small pamphlet which he wrote introduced him to dis-
tinguished men, which was of much advantage to him.
While he lodged in Little Britain, he made the acquaint-
ance of a bookseller, by the name of Wilcox, who had a very
large collection of second-hand books. Benjamin wanted to
gain access to them, but he could not command the means
to purchase; so he hit upon this plan: He proposed to
Wilcox to pay him a certain sum per book for as many as he
might choose to take out, read, and return, and Wilcox
accepted his offer. In this transaction was involved the
principle of the modern circulating library. It was the first
instance of lending books on record, and for that reason
becomes an interesting fact. It was another of the influences
that served to send him forward in a career of honour and
When he first entered the printing-house in London, be