« PrejšnjaNaprej »
you learn a lesson from this, and never do the like again?"
'I promise that I never will."
Thus frankly Benjamin confessed his wrong-doing; and, in mature life, he often referred to it as his "first wrong act," from which he learned a lesson for life. It was another way of paying too dear for a whistle. What the whistle was to him at seven, the wharf of stones was to him at twelve years of age-sport. The first was innocent sport, however; the last was guilty.
It appears that the workmen missed their stones when they first reached the spot in the morning, and soon discovered them nicely laid into a wharf. The proprietor was indignant, and set about learning who were the authors of the deed. In the course of the day he gained the information he sought, and very properly went to the parents of each boy with his complaint. In this way the boys were exposed, and received just rebuke for their misdemeanour. Benjamin was convinced, as he said of it many years thereafter, "that that which is not honest could not be truly useful."
T the time Benjamin was in the candle-factory his brother James was in England learning the printer's trade. He spent several years there, until he had mastered the business, intending to return to Boston and establish that trade. He returned about the time that Benjamin was concluding his disgust with candle-making, and was well under way at the time he abandoned the cutler's trade. James brought press, type, and all the et ceteras of a complete outfit with him from England.
"How would you like to learn the printer's trade with your brother James?" inquired his father, a short time after Benjamin left the cutler's shop. "I have been thinking it over, and I really believe that you have more qualifications for it than you have for any other trade. Your love of learning will have a better chance there, too."
"How is that?" answered Benjamin. "I do not quite see in what respect I am better qualified to be a printer than a cutler."
"Well, you are a good reader, and have an intellectual turn, being fond of books; and a printing office must have more opportunities for mental improvement than the shop of a cutler. A type-setter can be acquiring new and valuable ideas when he is setting up written articles."
“If that is so I should like it well; and I should think it might be as you say," Benjamin answered. "I might have a better chance to read."
"Of course you would. You may have matter to put in type that is as interesting and profitable as anything you find in books. Indeed, James will no doubt have pamphlets and books to publish before long. All that you read in books went through the printer's hand first."
"I had not thought of that," said Benjamin, quite taken with his father's ideas about the printing business. "I think I should like it better than almost anything else. How long will it take to learn the trade?"
"I suppose that it will take some time, though I know very little about it. You are twelve years of age now, and you can certainly acquire the best knowledge of the trade by the time you are twenty-one."
"That is a long time," suggested Benjamin; "nine years ought to make the best printer there is. But that is no objection to me; I shall do as you think best."
"I want you should think it best, too," rejoined his father. If you have no inclination to be a printer, I do not want you should undertake it. You will not succeed in any business you dislike."
"I do think it best to try this," replied Benjamin. "If James thinks well of it, I shall, for he knows all about the trade."
"I will speak with him about it and learn his opinion," said his father. "If he thinks well of it, I will see what arrangements can be made with him. The prospects of the business are not flattering now, but I think the day is coming when it will prosper."
Mr. Franklin lost no time in conferring with James, who favoured the plan without any reserve. He proposed to take Benjamin as an apprentice, to serve until he was twenty-one years old, according to the custom of the times, receiving ten pounds for the same, and giving him board and clothes until the last year, when he would be paid journeyman's wages. This was a good opportunity on the whole, for printing was in its infancy in the country
at that time.
Not more than six or eight persons had been in the business in Boston before James Franklin comThe demand for printing must
menced, in the year 1717. have been very small indeed.
The first printing press in the United States was set up in Cambridge in 1639 by Rev. Jesse Glover, who gave it to Harvard University. The first thing printed was the "Freeman's oath"; the next, the almanac for New England, calculated by William Pierce, a mariner; the next, a metrical version of the Psalms.
It is claimed that ten years later than Benjamin entering his brother's printing office, there were but three or four printers in the country. Whether that was so or not, it is certain that then, and for many years afterwards, printers were very scarce. In 1692, Old Style, the council of New York adopted the following resolution :—
"It is resolved in council, that if a printer will come and settle in the city of New York, for the printing of our acts of assembly and public papers, he shall be allowed the sum of forty pounds, current money of New York, per annum, for his salary, and have the benefit of his printing, besides what serves to the public."
It is said, also, that when Benjamin Franklin wanted to marry the daughter of Mr. Reed, of Philadelphia, her mother said, "I don't know about giving my daughter to a printer; for there are already two in the United States, and it is doubtful if more could get a living."
It is worthy of note here, also, as showing how slowly the printing business advanced in the infancy of the country, that Great Britain did not allow the American Colonies to print the English Bible. Hence the first Bible printed in the country was published in 1782, a little more than a hundred years ago. For this reason most of the pulpit Bibles in the Congregational and other churches of New England, before that time, were the Oxford editions, in which the Book of Common Prayer and the Psalms were
included, and the Articles of Faith of the English Church. Some of these are still preserved as relics.
It will be necessary for you to be bound to your brother, according to law," remarked Mr. Franklin. "These things must be done legally, and such is the law and custom, too."
"And I am to board with him, also, if I understand you, father?" Benjamin was thinking of leaving his home, and that would be a trial. True he would not be far from his father's house; he could step into it every night if he wished; but it was leaving home, nevertheless. "It does not seem quite right for one brother to be bound to another for nine years," added Benjamin, thoughtfully, and after some hesitation.
"But such is the custom, however it may appear, and it must be done so to have everything right and legal. We don't know what may happen in the nine years. It is better to have things in black and white, whether the bargain is with a brother or anyone else."
Mr. Franklin added more to the last remarks, in order to remove an objection which Benjamin seemed to have to being bound to his brother; and he was successful. The last objection was removed, and cheerfully and gladly Benjamin consented to become a printer-boy.
The following was the form of the indenture of apprenticeship that bound Benjamin to his brother for nine years :
"This indenture witnesseth that Benjamin Franklin, son of Josiah Franklin, and of Abiah, his wife, of Boston, in the colony of Massachusetts Bay, with the consent of his parents, doth put himself apprentice to his brother, James Franklin, printer, to learn his art, and with him after the manner of an apprentice from the day of — in the year of our Lord, 1718, until he shall have fully completed the twenty-first year of his age. During which term the said apprentice his master faithfully shall or will serve, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere gladly do. He