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"Begin to wish that you knew something of arithmetic. by this time! Making up for misspent time, I see. Paying old debts is not interesting business."
James meant this last remark for a fling at Benjamin's dislike for arithmetic when he attended school. Not devoting himself to it with the enthusiasm he gave to more congenial studies, he was more deficient in that branch of study than in any other. He regretted his neglect of the study now, and was determined to make up his loss. This was very honourable, and showed a noble aim, which merited praise, instead of a fling, from his brother.
"I think it must be a sort of luxury to pay old debts, if one has anything to pay them with," remarked Benjamin. "If I can make up any loss of former years now, I enjoy doing it, even by the closest economy of time."
Well, you estimate time as closely as a miser counts his money, Ben."
"And I have a right to do it. As little time as I have to myself requires that I should calculate closely. Time is money to you, or else you would allow me a little more to myself; and it is more than money to me."
"It enables me to acquire knowledge, which I cannot
buy with money. Unless I were saving of my time, I
should not be able to read or study at all, having to work so constantly."
Perhaps, at this time, Benjamin laid the foundation for that economy which distinguished him in later life, and about which he often wrote. Among his wise sayings, in the height of his influence and fame, were the following:"If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as of getting."
"What maintains one vice would bring up two children." "Many a little makes a mickle."
"A small leak will sink a ship."
"At a great pennyworth pause awhile."
"Silks and satins, scarlets and velvets, put out the kitchen fire."
"Always taking out of the meal-tub, and never putting in, soon comes to the bottom."
"It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel."
"A penny saved is a penny earned."
"A penny saved is twopence clear." "A pin a day is a groat a year."
"He that wastes idly a groat's worth of his time per day, one day with another, wastes the privilege of using one hundred pounds each day."
"In short, the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market. It depends chiefly on two words, industry and frugality; that is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality nothing will do, and with them everything. He that gets all he can honestly, and saves all he gets (necessary expenses excepted), will certainly become richif that Being who governs the world, to whom all should look for a blessing on their honest endeavours, doth not, in His wise providence, otherwise determine."
The reader may desire to know just how Franklin himself speaks of the "vegetable diet" experiment in his "Autobiography"; so we quote it here :
"I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconvenience, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty-pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he would give me weekly half the money he paid
for my board, I would board myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying of books; but I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the printing-house to their meals, I remained there alone, and, despatching presently my light repast (which was often no more than a biscuit, or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins, or a tart from the pastrycook's, and a glass of water), had the rest of the time, till their return, for study; in which I made the greater progress from that greater clearness of head, and quicker apprehension, which generally attend temperance in eating and drinking. Now it was, that, being on some occasion made ashamed of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed learning when at school, I took Cocker's book on arithmetic, and went through the whole by myself with the greatest ease."
THE RUSE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
R. PARTON says of the Courant, "It was a most extraordinary sheet. Of all the colonial newspapers, it was the most spirited, witty, and daring. The Bostonians, accustomed to the monotonous dulness of the News-letter, received, some with delight, more with horror, all with amazement, this weekly budget of impudence and fun. A knot of liberals gathered around James Franklin, physicians most of them, able, audacious men, who kept him well supplied with squibs, essays, and every variety of sense and nonsense known in that age. The Courant was, indeed, to borrow the slang of the present day, a 'sensational paper.' Such a tempest did it stir up in Boston that the noise thereof was heard in the remote colony of Pennsylvania.”
The "knot of liberals" who wrote articles for it, met often at the office to discuss their contributions, and the state of public sentiment more or less affected by this venture. The News-letter came in for a large share of the opposition, and they declared war against many of the existing customs,-governmental, political, and social. The scope and circulation of the paper was a frequent topic of remark.
Benjamin's ears were always open to their conversation. He heard the merits of different articles set forth, and learned that certain ones were quite popular and elicited favourable remarks from readers generally. This excited his ambition, and he strongly desired to try his own ability in
writing for the paper. He feared, however, that his composition would not be regarded favourably, if it were known who was the author; so he resorted to the following expedient :
"I will write an anonymous article," he said within himself, "in the best style I can, and get it into James' hand in some way that will not arouse his suspicions. I will disguise my handwriting, and give it some fictitious name so that he will not dream that it was written in the office."
Accordingly the article was prepared, describing his ideal of character, and that was the character he himself formed, and was forming then; and he signed it SILENCE Dogood. This article he slipped under the printing office door at night, where James found it in the morning, and read it with evident satisfaction, as Benjamin thought, who narrowly watched him. In a little while some of the "knot of liberals came in, and the article was read to them.
"It is a good article, and it was slipped under the door last night," said James. "It is signed 'Silence Dogood." "You have no idea who wrote it, then?" inquired one. "Not the least whatever."
"It is capital, whoever the author may be," remarked one of the critics.
Somebody wrote it who knows how to wield his pen,” said another.
Ordinarily I shall not publish articles without knowing
who the author is," remarked James; "but this is so good that I shall not stop to inquire. I shall put it into the next issue."
'By all means, of course," replied one. "No doubt we shall soon learn who the author is; 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 the article is charged with thought. I should judge that he needed only practice to make him a writer of the first class."