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15 Then I compared my Spectator with the original, disThe time covered some of my faults, and corrected them. which I devoted to these exercises, and to reading, was the evening after my day's labor was finished, the morning before it began, and Sundays when I could escape attending divine service. While I lived with my father, he had insisted on my punctual attendance on public worship, and I still indeed considered it as a duty, but a duty which I thought I had no time to practise.
16 When about sixteen years of age, a work of Tryon fell into my hands, in which he recommends vegetable diet. I determined to observe it. My brother, being a bachelor, did not keep house, but boarded with his apprentices in a neighboring family.
17 My refusing to eat animal food was found inconvenient, and I was often scolded for my singularity. I attended to the mode in which Tryon prepared some of his dishes, particularly how to boil potatoes and rice, and make hasty puddings. I then said to my brother, that if he would allow me per week half what he paid for my board, I would undertake to maintain myself. The offer was instantly embraced, and I soon found that of what he gave me I was able to save half.
18 This was a new fund for the purchase of books; and other advantages resulted to me from the plan. When my brother and his workmen left the printing house to go to dinner, I remained behind; and despatching my frugal meal, which frequently consisted of a biscuit only, or a slice of bread and a bunch of raisins, or a bun from the pastry cook's, with a glass of water, I had the rest of the time till their return, for study; and my progress therein was proportioned to that clearness of ideas, and quickness of conception, which are the fruit of temperance in eating and drinking.
19 It was about this period that, having one day been put to the blush for my ignorance in the art of calculation, which I had twice failed to learn while at school, I took Cocker's Treatise of Arithmetic, and went through it by myself with the utmost ease.
20 While laboring to form and improve my style, I met with an English grammar, which I believe was Greenwood's, having at the end of it two little essays, on rhetoric and logic. In the latter I found a model of disputation after the manner of Socrates. Shortly after I procured Xenophon's work, entitled, Memorable Things of Socrates, in which are various examples of the same method. Charmed to a degree of en
thusiasm, with this mode of disputing, I adopted it, and re nouncing blunt contradiction, and direct and positive argument, I assumed the character of a humble questioner.
21 This method I continued to employ for some years; but I afterwards abandoned it by degrees, retaining only the habit of expressing myself with modest diffidence, and never making use, when I advanced any proposition which might be controverted, of the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that might give the appearance of being obstinately attached to my opinion.
22 This habit I believe has been of great advantage to me, when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting; and as the chief ends of conversation are to inform, or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well meaning and sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive assuming manner that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat most of those purposes for which speech was given to us.
23 In fact, if you wish to instruct others, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments, may occasion opposition, and prevent a candid attention. If you desire improvement from others, you should not at the same time express yourself fixed in your present opinions; modest and sensible men who do not love disputation, will leave you undisturbed in the possession of your errors.
24 My brother considered himself as my master, and me as his apprentice, and accordingly expected the same services from me as he would from another, while I thought he degraded me too much in some things he required of me, who, from a brother, required more indulgence. Our disputes were often brought before our father, and I fancy I was either generally in the right, or else a better pleader, for the judg ment was generally in my favor.
25 But my brother was passionate, and often had recourse to blows; a circumstance which I took in very ill part. This severe and tyrannical treatment contributed, I believe, to imprint on my mind that aversion to arbitrary power, which during my whole life I have ever preserved. My apprenticeship became insupportable to me, and I continually sighed for an opportunity of shortening it, which at length unexpectedly offered.
Having left his brother, he goes to Philadelphia; and afterwards to London. His temperance, industry and frugality, while employed as a journeyman printer in those cities.
1 From this period I began to contract acquaintance with such young people of the town [Philadelphia] as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings with them agreeably, while at the same time, I gained money by my industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contented.
2 My most intimate acquaintance at this time were Charles Osborne, Joseph Watson, and James Ralph; young men who were all fond of reading. It was a custom with us to take a charming walk on Sundays, in the woods that border on the Schuylkill. Here we read together, and afterwards conversed on what we read.
3 While I lodged in Little Britain, [being then in London] I formed acquaintance with a bookseller of the name of Wilcox, whose shop was next door to me. Circulating libraries were not then in use. He had an immense collection of books of all sorts.
4 We agreed that, for a reasonable retribution, of which I have now forgotten the price, I should have free access to his library, and take what books I pleased, which I was to return when I had read them. I considered this agreement as a very great advantage, and I derived from it as much benefit as was in my power.
5 I now began to think of laying by some money. The printing-house of Watts, near Lincoln's Inn-Fields, being a still more considerable one than that in which I worked, it was probable I might find it more advantageous to be employed there. I offered myself, and was accepted; and in this house I continued during the remainder of my stay in London.
6 On my entrance I worked at first as a pressman; conceiving that I had need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America, where the printers work alternately as compositors and at the press. I drank nothing but water. The other workmen, to the number of about fifty, were great drinkers of beer.
7 I carried occasionally a large form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see, by this and many other examples, that the American Aquatic, [ Water
American,] as they used to call me, was stronger than those who drank porter.
8 The beer boy had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house alone. My fellow pressman drank every day a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again about six o'clock in the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work. This custom appeared to me abominable; but he had need, he said, of all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.
9 I endeavored to convince him that bodily strength furnished by the beer, could only be in proportion to the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was a larger portion of flour in a penny loaf, and that, consequently, if he eat this loaf, and drank a pint of water with it, he would derive more strength from it than a pint of beer.
10 This reasoning, however, did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Saturday night a score of four or five shillings a week for this vile beverage; an expense from which I was wholly exempt. Thus do these poor creatures continue all their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty.
11 My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they procured, like me, from a neighboring house, a good basin of warm gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and nutmeg. This was a much better breakfast which did not cost more than a pint of beer, namely, three halfpence, and at the same time preserving the head clearer.
12 Those who continued to gorge themselves with beer often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting to pay their score. They had then recourse to me, to become security for them; their light, as they used to call it, being out. I attended at the pay table every Saturday evening, to take up the little sum of money which I had made myself answerable for; and which sometimes amounted to nearly thirty shillings a week.
13 This circumstance, added to my reputation of being a tolerable good gabber, or in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept up my importance in the chapel. I had besides, recommended myself to the esteem of my master, by my assiduous application to business, never observing Saint
Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is commonly best paid; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant manner.
14 At Watt's printing house, I contracted an acquaintance with an ingenious man of the name of Wygate, who, having wealthy relations, had been better educated than most printers. He at length proposed to me travelling all over Europe together, supporting ourselves every where by working at our business.
15 I was once inclined to it; but mentioning it to my good friend Mr. Denham, with whom I often spent an hour when I had leisure, he dissuaded me from it; advising me to think only of returning to Pennsylvania, which he was about to do.
16 I must record one trait of this good man's character. He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failed, in debt to a number of people, compounded with his creditors, and went to America: there, by close application to business as a merchant, he acquired a plentiful fortune in a few years.
17 Returning to England in the ship with me, he invited his old creditors to an entertainment, at which he thanked them for the easy terms of compromise they had favored him with, and when they expected nothing but the treat, every man at the first remove found under his plate an order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid balance, with interest.
18 Thus I passed about eighteen months in London; most part of the time I worked hard at my business, and spent but little upon myself, except in books. I had improved my knowledge, however, though I had by no means improved my fortune: but I had made some very ingenious acquaintance, whose conversation was of great advantage to me; and I had read considerably.
19 We sailed from Gravesend, on the 23d July, 1726. The most important part of my journal of the voyage, is the plan to be found in it, which I formed at sea for regulating the future conduct of my life. It is the more remarkable, as being formed when I was so young, and yet being pretty faithfully adhered to quite through to old age. [The Compiler has been much gratified in meeting with a sketch of the interesting plan here alluded to, in Delaplaine's Repository of the Lives of Distinguished Americans, which is as follows:]
20 "During Franklin's voyage homewards from England to Philadelphia, he digested and committed to paper, the plan of life which, as he himself observes, he afterwards pursued;