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answered Benjamin. "See how many buildings are going up, and how rents are rising every month. This does not look like going backward, it seems to me."

"These are the very things that will ruin us," responded Nickle. "They are no evidence of prosperity, but of extravagance, that will bring disaster sooner or later."

"That sort of disaster is what we want," suggested Benjamin; "the more of it the better. If Philadelphia ever becomes much of a town, it will be in just that way." Benjamin saw at once that he was talking with a croaker, and treated him accordingly.

There was an organization of business men in Philadelphia at that time, known as the Merchants' Every-Night Club, answering, perhaps, to a Board of Trade of our day. Its purpose was to advance the business interests of the town. A member raised the question, “Can another printing house prosper in town?"

"Not with the present population," was the view of one member.

It will be a long time before three printing houses will be required," remarked another.

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They couldn't have had very discreet advisers, it seems to me," still another remarked.

In this manner the subject was canvassed, every member but one predicting the failure of the enterprise. That one was Doctor Baird, a prominent physician, and he said:"It will prove a success. For the industry of that Franklin is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind. I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbours are out of bed."

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'Doctor, I guess you are right, I did not think of that when I spoke," remarked one who had predicted failure. This member was so much impressed by Doctor Baird's remark that he subsequently went to Benjamin and made this proposition:

"I think you can add a stationer's department to your

business, and thus increase to your profits; and if you think so, I will furnish you with stock on credit."

"Your offer is a very generous one, and I thank you for it," answered Benjamin; "but I think we had better stick to our trade at present and not put too many irons in the fire at once."

"That is a wise caution, I think, and I am all the more impressed that you are a young man of sound judgment, and you will succeed."

He had no doubt now that the printing house would succeed.

"Your good opinion encourages me very much, and I shall do my best to have it realized," replied Benjamin. "I thank you very much for your generous offer, and, perhaps, at some future day, I shall wish to accept it."

"Let me know whenever you are ready for it," said the gentleman as he took his departure.

"We will start a weekly paper as soon as we are able,” said Benjamin to Meredith one day; "the Mercury is as near nothing as it can be. I believe that an able paper here, abreast with the times, will succeed."

"You can make it succeed if any one can," replied Meredith, to whom his partner had given a full account of his connection with the New England Courant in Boston.

They canvassed the subject until it was decided to start a weekly paper as soon as their pecuniary condition would permit. Just then the Oxford student, whose time Keimer had bought, called upon Benjamin.

"Will you employ me as a journeyman printer?" he asked.

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'Employ you?" responded Benjamin with much surprise.

"I thought your time was Keimer's for four years." "It was; but it is not now; I have bought it back." "I am glad to hear that; you will be more of a man for it; and, before long, I think we should like your work; just now we are not in want of more help.”

"Your work is increasing, I suppose?" said Webb; "hope I shall not have to wait long."

"If you can keep a secret, Webb, I will let you into it," continued Benjamin. "I expect to start a weekly paper before many weeks have passed; and then I shall have plenty of work."

"How long shall I have to wait?"

"I can't say. It is possible I may want you before I start the newspaper; work is coming in very well. But you must not let Keimer know about the paper. When it starts I want it should be a surprise to him and the public."

"I will not divulge your secret," was Webb's ready promise.

Nevertheless, Webb did disclose the secret to Keimer himself, who proceeded to start a paper of his own, called the Pennsylvania Gazette, and he hired Webb, at good wages, to work on it. It proved to be a miserable affair, without ability or intelligent enterprise, so that a sharp, witty young man like Benjamin could readily make it a "laughing-stock."

"I will show up his ignorance and conceit in the Mercury” (name of the paper already published by Bradford), he said to Meredith. "See if I don't."

"A good idea, Ben; go ahead; it will create a sensation. Bradford will be glad to publish anything you may write." "I will see him at once." And Benjamin hastened to the office of the Mercury, made known his purpose to Bradford, who caught at it at once."

"Just the thing I want," responded Bradford. have something for the next issue."

"Let me

"Certainly; you shall have the first article to-morrow morning."

Benjamin hurried away with his mind completely absorbed upon the subjects he should take up. The result was a series of amusing articles, in which he burlesqued Keimer's proposals, and ridiculed his editorials which really

deserved nothing better. He continued to write in this way several months, signing all his articles "Busy Body." The public were greatly interested in the communications, because of their real merit. They were bright, even sparkling, full of humour, logical to sharpness, and charged with ability. They drew public attention to Bradford's paper, and public ridicule to Keimer's; so that the subscription list of the former increased, while that of the latter never had over ninety subscribers. People on every hand inquired, "Who is Busy Body?" And, finally, the public learned that it was "that young Franklin, the printer." Keimer learned who his critic was; and, after the lapse of six or eight months from the time the first number was issued, who should appear before Benjamin at his office but him, saying:

"I understand that you think of starting a weekly newspaper; and I have come to sell you mine."

"How is that? Can't you make it go?" Benjamin replied in a familiar way.

"No, not as I want to. I don't think I am exactly qualified to run a newspaper."

"How many subscribers have you?”


"Only ninety?" exclaimed Benjamin. "That number will be of no aid in starting a paper; might as well start new, new paper, new title, new editor, new everything."

The conclusion of the interview was, however, that Benjamin purchased the paper, took possession immediately, advertised his literary enterprise, and "it proved,” as he said, "in a few years extremely profitable to me."

His economy was equal to his industry. He arrayed himself in the plainest manner, although he aimed to look neat and tidy. His board was simple and cheap, and everything about his business was conducted on the most economical principles. He wheeled home the paper which he bought, boarded himself some of the time, sleeping in

the office, and never stopped to consider whether it was compromising the dignity of a printer to do such things.

Keimer left no stone unturned to secure business and cripple Franklin & Meredith. He was never half so active and enterprising as he became after these two young men set up for themselves. One day Keimer was in Benjamin's printing office to transact some business, when the latter said to him :

"Look here, Keimer: come with me into the back room."

"What have you got there?" Keimer answered, following. "See that!" Benjamin said, pointing to a half-devoured loaf and pitcher of water, that he had just made a meal off. "What of that?" said Keimer, not comprehending the drift of Benjamin's remark.

"Unless you can live cheaper than I can, it is no use for you to attempt to run me out of business."

Both laughed, and Keimer departed.

The Gazette flourished finely from the time it came under Benjamin's management. He was able to discuss public questions of importance with manifest ability, and his articles created interest and discussion among public men, who became subscribers in consequence. A dispute was going on between Governor Burnett and the Massachusetts Assembly, and Benjamin commented upon it with so much wisdom and originality that his intimate acquaintance was sought by the most distinguished men.

Benjamin's work as a printer excelled that of either Keimer or Bradford. The latter did the Government printing, and often it was done in a very bungling manner. This was notably so when he printed an address of the House to the governor. It was a very inferior job; whereupon Benjamin printed it elegantly and correctly and sent a copy to each member of the House. The House voted to give him the Government printing thereafter. By his method of doing the best he could every time, he built up a

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