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business rapidly, and won a reputation for industry, integrity, and ability that was worth more than money.
To return to Meredith. He had become more intemperate than ever. His father, too, did not find relief from pecuniary embarrassment as he expected. He was to pay two hundred pounds currency for the printing house, and had paid one-half of it. But the other half was not paid when due, for which all three were sued.
"Perhaps your father is not pleased with your partner," said Benjamin to Meredith. "If that is the reason he does not advance the money, I will retire, and you shall run the whole thing."
"No; my father is well satisfied with my partner and so am I; so that you need not think he is withholding money for the purpose of getting rid of you. He is really embarrassed."
"Then he could not take the concern into his own hands for you to run?"
"No, indeed; that would be quite impossible. Besides, I do not want it on my hands.”
"Why?" inquired Benjamin.
"Because I am satisfied that I am not adapted to this business. I was bred a farmer, and ought not to have left that occupation."
"Drink water, as I do, and you may succeed as well at printing as farming. A farmer who drinks to excess never succeeds."
"Drink or no drink," retorted Meredith, "I am sick of this business, and shall quit. Many of our Welsh people are going to settle in North Carolina, where land is cheap, and I am going with them, and shall follow my old employment."
66 Then you will sell out your interest to me, if I understand you?" That was what Benjamin wanted.
"Certainly; you can get enough friends to help you. If you will take the debts of the company upon you, return
to my father the hundred pounds he has advanced, pay my little personal debts, and give me thirty pounds and a new saddle, I will relinquish the partnership, and leave the whole in your hands."
"I will accept your proposition, and we will draw up the papers at once," said Benjamin.
The bargain was consummated; and the proper papers were prepared, signed, and sealed. Benjamin accepted the generous aid of Coleman and Grace, and became sole proprietor of the printing house and Pennsylvania Gazette. This was near the close of the year 1729, a few months after the Gazette came into his hands.
A few months more elapsed, when he concluded to accept the offer of the gentleman, spoken of on a previous page, to provide a stock of stationery, and opened a stationer's shop in his building. This proved a good investment, and led to his marriage, September 1st, 1730, to Miss Deborah Read.
While Benjamin was thus prospering, Keimer was going to the wall; and finally his printing office, with all its furniture, was sold under the hammer, to pay his creditors; and he went to Barbadoes, where he lived in poverty.
Thus changes brought Benjamin to the front, and his printing house was the best, doing the most business, of any one in the whole country, except Boston. True, Bradford continued his business and paper; but in a very small way, in no sense a rival to our hero. He stood at the head.
NO LONGER A SCEPTIC.
IME is money," Doctor Franklin wrote in age.
was what he practised when he conducted his printing business in Philadelphia. One day a lounger stepped into the shop, and, after looking over the articles, asked:
"What is the price of that book?" holding it up in his hand. Benjamin had commenced to keep a few books on sale.
"One dollar," answered the apprentice in attendance.
"One dollar," repeated the lounger; "can't you take less than that?"
"No less; one dollar is the price."
Waiting a few moments, and still looking over the book, he said, at length:
"Is Mr. Franklin at home?"
"He is in the printing office."
"I want to see him; will you call him?
Franklin was called.
"Mr. Franklin, what is the lowest price you will take for this book?" at the same time holding up the book.
"One dollar and a quarter," answered Franklin, who had heard the lounger's parleying with his apprentice.
"One dollar and a quarter! Your young man asked but a dollar.
"True," answered Franklin, "and I could have better afforded to take a dollar then, than to have been called from my business.”
The customer seemed puzzled for a few moments, but finally concluded that the proprietor was joking. He had not been wont to place so great value upon time.
"Come, now, tell me just the lowest you will take for it," he said.
"One dollar and a half."
"A dollar and a half! Why, you offered it yourself for a dollar and a quarter."
"True, and I had better taken the price then, than a dollar and a half now," retorted Benjamin with a good deal of spirit.
The buyer got the truth into his head at last, paid the price of the book, and sneaked away, with the rebuke lying heavily on his heart.
Benjamin wrote of his industry at that time, as follows:
"My circumstances, however, grew daily easier. My original habits of frugality continuing, and my father having, among his instructions to me when a boy, frequently repeated a proverb of Solomon, 'Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before kings, he shall not stand before mean men,' I thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction, which encouraged me ; though I did not think that I should ever literally stand before kings,-which, however, has since happened; for I have stood before five, and even had the honour of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner."
It is not strange that such a young man should write such maxims as the following, in his riper years :"Pride breakfasts with plenty, dines with poverty, and sups with infamy."
"It is as truly folly for the poor to ape the rich, as for the frog to swell in order to equal the ox."
"It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow it."
His integrity was no less marked. racterized all his dealings with men.
Strict honesty cha
An exalted idea of
justice pervaded his soul. His word of honour was as good as his note of hand. Even his disposition to castigate and censure in his writings, so manifest in Boston, at sixteen years of age, and which his father rebuked, was overcome. After he had set up a paper in Philadelphia, a gentleman handed him an article for its columns.
"I am very busy now," said Benjamin, "and you will confer a favour by leaving it for perusal at my leisure."
"That I will do, and call again to-morrow."
The following day the author put in his appearance quite early.
"What is your opinion of my article?" he asked.
"Why, sir, I am sorry to say that I cannot publish it." "Why not? What is the matter with it?"
"It is highly scurrilous and defamatory," replied Benjamin; but being at a loss, on account of my poverty, whether to reject it or not, I thought I would put it to this issue. At night when my work was done, I bought a twopenny loaf, on which I supped heartily, and then, wrapping myself in my great coat, slept very soundly on the floor until morning, when another loaf and mug of water afforded a pleasant` breakfast. Now, sir, since I can live very comfortably in this manner, why should I prostitute my press to personal hatred or party passion for a more luxurious living?"
We have seen that Benjamin began to revise his religious opinions on his return voyage from England. He continued to reflect much upon his loose ways; and there is no doubt that his integrity, industry, economy, and desire to succeed in business had something to do with his moral improvement. He confessed that, along from 1725 to 1730, he was immoral, and was sometimes led astray; but his conscience made him much trouble, and, finally, it asserted its supremacy, and he came off conqueror over his evil propensities. A change from scepticism or deism to a decided belief in the Christian religion, no doubt exerted the strongest influence in making him a better man.