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He walked up the little unpaved street gazing curiously about him, till he met a boy with bread. He asked him the way to the baker's, hurried there and bought for three pence three great puffy rolls. He tucked one under each arm, and walked up Market Street devouring the third. Deborah Read, a young girl out on her father's door step, laughed heartily at his comical appearance, little dreaming that she would one day become his wife. Still eating, Franklin wandered about till he found himself again at the wharf, where he took a drink of the river water, and gave
his other two rolls to a woman and her child who were there waiting for a boat.
These are his own words, that tell what else he did that first Sunday in Philadelphia, and how he wandered into one of the silent religious meetings of the Quakers: "Thus refreshed I walked again up the street, which by this time had many clean dressed people in it, all walking the same way. I joined them and was thereby led into the great meeting house of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and after looking around for a while and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep and continued so until the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me. Walking down again toward the river and looking in the faces of people, I met a young Quaker man whose countenance I liked, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get lodging. He brought me to the 'Crooked Billet in Water Street. Here I got dinner and, while I was eating it, several sly questions were asked me, as it seemed to be suspected from my youth and appearance that I might be some runaway."
The boy quickly found work in Philadelphia with a printer named Keimer. By chance the Governor of Pennsylvania, Gov. Keith, saw some of Benjamin's writing and thought it very clever. By way of helping so promising a young fellow, the Governor sent him home to Boston, with a letter advising his father to furnish the money to set up this lad of seventeen as an independent printer in Philadelphia.
This is how Franklin describes his visit home: “My unexpected appearance surprised the family; all were however, glad to see me and made me welcome, except my brother. I went to see him at his printing house. I was better dressed than ever while in his service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets lined with near five pounds sterling in silver"-about $25 in our money. "He received me not very frankly, looked me all over and turned to his work again."
Benjamin's father did not think it wise to establish so young a man in business. Gov. Keith, when he heard this, offered to do it himself, because, as he said, Philadelphia needed a good printer. With false promises of letters and of money to buy an outfit in London, the faithless Governor sent the poor lad to England. Landing there on Christmas Eve, 1724, Franklin learned he had been deceived. He was bitterly disappointed, but, having to shift for himself, he wasted no time in regrets. At once he found work in London with a printer, and in this English shop, as he set the type, he preached temperance to his fellow workmen, who were great drinkers of beer. They were astonished to see that the “Water American” was stronger than they were, who drank "strong beer."
After two years Franklin tired of London life and resolved to return to America, for the best that England now offered him seemed only a poor chance to a
young man of his ability and ambition. He had great
Soon after arriving in Philadelphia to take a position
The Body of
B. Franklin, Printer,
Its Contents torn out
Lies here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be lost;
Revised and corrected
By the Author.
FINDING HIS FORTUNE
But Franklin was only at the beginning of a long
Franklin's neighbors watched his habits. He worked hard. He could be seen carrying material for his paper through the streets in a wheelbarrow. A member of the merchants' Every Night Club said one evening: "The industry of that Franklin is superior to anything I ever saw; I see him still at work when I go home from the club at night, and he is at work again in the morning before his neighbors are out of bed.” In this way Franklin gained "character and credit."
He himself recalls how his father often read to him from the book of Proverbs: "Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” And he adds, “I did not think I should literally stand before kings; which, however, has since happened, for I have stood before five, and even had the honor of sitting down with one, the King of Denmark, to dinner."
At the age of twenty-four, Franklin married Deborah Read, who helped him to his great success. “We have an English proverb,” he says, “'He that would thrive, must ask his wife.' It was lucky for me that I had one as much disposed to industry and frugality as myself. She assisted me cheerfully in my business, folding and stitching pamphlets, tending shop, purchasing old linen rags for the paper makers. We kept no idle servants, our table was plain and simple, our furniture of the cheapest. For instance, my breakfast was a long time bread and milk-no tea—and I ate it out of a two penny earthen porringer with a pewter spoon. But mark how luxury will enter families, and make a progress, in spite of principle: Being called one morning to breakfast, I found it in a china bowl
with a spoon of silver! They had been bought for me without my knowledge by my wife, for which she had no other excuse or apology to make but that she thought her husband deserved a silver spoon and china bowl, as well as any of his neighbors."
It was not long before Franklin enlarged his business and opened a shop near the market place. He sold paper and sheepskin, legal blanks, imported books, quill pens and ink, Rhode Island cheese, scented soap, live geese feathers, tea, coffee, and lampblack, which he made himself. Industrious, saving, he made use of every chance and soon was the chief printer in Pennsylvania. Thrift brought wealth. At his death
. Franklin's estate was valued at $250,000.
"POOR RICHARD" AND "FATHER ABRAHAM”
In 1732 Franklin printed Poor Richard's Almanac. At that time most of the colonists were too poor to buy books. But cheap almanacs found their way into every household. Peddlers exchanged them for gloves and stockings, which the women knit by their lonely firesides during the long, cold evenings of winter. Because people had so little to read, Franklin filled all the spaces in his almanac with homely proverbs intended to teach hard work, saving, honesty and self-reliance as a means to success. These proverbs Franklin put into the mouth of a character whom he called “Poor Richard." The best of them he collected and printed in his almanac of 1757. They were written in the form of an address by an old man to the people at an auction, and this was called Father Abraham's Speech. At that time country folk came early from long distances to these public sales. The auctioneer gave them all the rum they could drink, so that when the bidding began