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2. Do you sincerely declare that you love mankind in general, of what profession or religion soever?
Answer. I do.
3. Do you think any person ought to be harmed in his body, name, or goods, for mere speculative opi. nions, or his external way of worship?
4. Do you love truth for truth's sake? and will you endeavour, impartially, to find and receive it yourself, and communicate it to others ?
The business in which Franklin and his friend had embarked succeeded rapidly; all the members of their club exerting themselves to send them work. Breintual alone procured for them, from the Quakers, the printing of forty sheets of their history, the rest being pledged to Keimer. It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long-primer notes. Franklin composed a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off in the evening; the distribution, and other casual jobs, frequently detaining them afterwards till eleven o'clock. Yet so determined was Franklin in doing his sheet per day, that one night having broken his form by accident, and reduced two pages to pie*, he immediately distributed, and composed it over again, before he went to bed. His application to business was soon notorious. The new printing-office being mentioned at the merchants' club, a general opinion was given that it must fail, there being already two printers in the place; but a Dr Baird observed, “ The industry of that Franklin is superior to any thing I ever saw: I see him at work when I go home from the club; and he is at it again before his neighbours are out of bed.” One gentleman, who had heard this observation, immediately offered to supply the new house with stationery, &c.
George Webb, meeting with a female friend who * Pie-a technical phrase, meaning a mass of types fallen out of their lines
or pages into confusion,
lent him money to buy out the remainder of his time from Keimer, now offered himself to Franklin and his partner, as a journeyman. They could not employ him; but Franklin incautiously communicated to him one of his most important designs for the future. He told him that he soon intended to begin a newspaper, and should then have work (the only paper in Philadelphia, at that time, being one printed by Bradford; a wretched, uninteresting thing). Notwithstanding he requested Webb not to mention the circumstance, his intentions were told to Keimer, who immediately published proposals for a new paper, and employed Webb to manage it. Franklin was much displeased at this; but the circumstance only contributed to the developement of his powers, and his more complete success, at last, in the object which he had in view. To counteract Keimer's plans, he wrote several amusing pieces for Bradford's paper, under the title of the Busy Body.” We extract the first of these papers, as a fair specimen of Franklin's attainments at this time in point of style :
“ THE BUSY BODY. No. 1. “ Me Andrew BRADFORD,—I design this to acquaint you, that I, who have long been one of your courteous readers, have lately entertained some thoughts of setting up for an author myself, not out of the least vanity, I assure you, or desire of showing my parts, but purely for the good of my country.
“ I have often observed with concern, that your • Mercury' is not always equally entertaining. The delay of ships expected in, and want of fresh advices from Europe, make it frequently very dull ; and I find the freezing of our river has the same effect on news as on trade. With more concern have I observed the growing vices and follies of my countryfolk; and though reformation is properly the work of every man, that is, every one ought to mend one, yet it is too true, in this case, that what is everybody's business is nobody's business;' and the business is done accordingly. I therefore, upon mature deliberation, think fit to take nobody's whole business into my own hands, and, out of zeal for the public good, design to erect myself into a kind of censor morum, purposing to make use of the · Weekly Mercury' as a vehicle in which, with your allowance, my remonstrances shall be conveyed to the world. I am sensible I have, in this particular, undertaken a very unthankful office, and expect little besides my labour for my pains. Nay, it is probable I may displease a great number of your readers, who will not very well like to pay ten shillings a year for being told of their faults. But as most people delight in censure, when they themselves are not the objects of it, if any are offended at my publicly exposing their private vices, I promise they shall have the satisfaction, in a very little time, of seeing their good friends and neighbours in the same circumstances.
“ However, let the fair sex be assured that I shall always treat them and their affairs with the utmost decency and respect. I intend, now and then, to dedicate a chapter wholly to their service ; and if my lectures any way contribute to the embellishment of their minds, and brightening their understandings, without offending their modesty, I doubt not of having their favour and encouragement. · “ It is certain that no country in the world produces, naturally, finer spirits than ours; men of genius for every kind of science, and capable of acquiring, to perfection, every qualification that is in esteem among mankind. But as few here have the advantage of good books, for want of which good conversation is still more scarce, it would doubtless have been very acceptable to your readers, if, instead of an old out-ofdate article from Muscovy or Hungary, you had entertained them with some well-chosen extract from a good author. This I shall sometimes do, when I happen to have nothing of my own to say, that I think of more consequence. Sometimes I purpose to deliver lectures of morality or philosophy; and, because I am
naturally inclined to be meddling with things that do not concern me, perhaps I may sometimes talk of politics. And if I can by any means furnish out a weekly entertainment for the public, that will give a rational diversion, and, at the same time, be instructive to the readers, I shall think my leisure hours well employed; and if you will publish this, I hereby invite all ingenious gentlemen and others (that approve of such an undertaking) to my assistance, and correspondence.
" It is like, by this time, you have a curiosity to be acquainted with my name and character. As I do not aim at public praise, I design to remain concealed; and there are such nnmbers of our family and relations at this time in the country, that though I have signed my name at full length, I am not under the least apprehension of being distinguished and discovered by it. My character, indeed, I would favour you with, but that I am cautious of praising myself, lest I should be told my trumpeter is dead; and I cannot find in my heart, at present, to say any thing to my own disadvantage.
“ It is very common with authors in their first performances, to talk to their readers thus :-If this meets with a suitable reception, or if this should meet with due encouragement, I shall hereafter publish, fc. This only manifests the value they put on their own writings, since they think to frighten the public into their applause, by threatening that unless you approve what they have already wrote, they intend never to write again, when perhaps it may not be a pin matter whether they ever do or no. As I have not observed the critics to be unfavourable on this account, I shall always avoid saying anything of the kind, and conclude with telling you, that if you send me a bottle of ink and a quire of paper by the bearer, you may depend on hearing further from
“ THE Busy BODY."
The attention of the public became fixed, by means of these papers, on the “ Weekly Mercury," and the proposals of Keimer were disregarded; so that before he had carried it on three-quarters of a year, he sold his paper to Franklin, who quickly turned it to great advantage. He introduced, at once, a better type and style of printing, and enlivened it with occasional extracts, and original essays of superior merit. Some remarks on an existing dispute between governor Burnet and the Massachusetts Assembly, in particular, made the paper exceedingly popular, until the leading men of Philadelphia, finding it in the hands of a man of talent, wished to conciliate and oblige him. When therefore Bradford, being the government printer, worked off an address of the House to the Governor in a coarse blundering manner, and Franklin and his partner re-printed it in a style of peculiar neatness, they were voted printers to the House for the year ensuing. On this occasion Mr Hamilton, having returned from England, exerted himself much in their favour.
Vernon about this time put Franklin in mind of the debt he owed him; but on receiving a letter of acknowledgment, requesting a little further forbearance, he desisted from pressing his claim; and in a short time, Franklin paid the principal, with interest. Meredith's father however, who was to have paid for their printing-house, according to agreement, had been able to advance only 100l. ; and another 100l. was due to the merchant, who sued all the parties. Bail was accordingly given, and Franklin had great reasons to fear the money would not be raised in time. In this extremity, two friends of his, William Coleman and Robert Grace, came to his assistance separately, unknown to each other, and without any application from him. Each offered to advance him all the money that should be necessary to enable him to take the business on himself, but objected to his continuing in partnership with Meredith, in consequence of his low and profligate habits. “I told them,” says