Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 54

taken ill. My distemper was a
pleurisy, which very nearly carried me off. I suffered a good deal,
gave up the point in my own mind, and was rather disappointed when I
found myself recovering, regretting, in some degree, that I must now,
some time or other, have all that disagreeable work to do over again.
I forget what his distemper was; it held him a long time, and at
length carried him off. He left me a small legacy in a nuncupative[82]
will, as a token of his kindness for me, and he left me once more to
the wide world; for the store was taken into the care of his
executors, and my employment under him ended.

My brother-in-law, Holmes, being now at Philadelphia, advised my
return to my business; and Keimer tempted me, with an offer of large
wages by the year, to come and take the management of his printing
house, that he might better attend his stationer's shop. I had heard a
bad character of him in London from his wife and her friends, and was
not fond of having any more to do with him. I tried for further
employment as a merchant's clerk; but, not readily meeting with any, I
closed again with Keimer. I found in his house these hands: Hugh
Meredith, a Welsh Pennsylvanian, thirty years of age, bred to country
work; honest, sensible, had a great deal of solid observation, was
something of a reader, but given to drink. Stephen Potts, a young
countryman of full age, bred to the same, of uncommon natural parts,
and great wit and humor, but a little idle. These he had agreed with
at extremely low wages per week, to be raised a shilling every three
months, as they would deserve by improving in their business; and the
expectation of these high wages, to come on hereafter, was what he had
drawn them in with. Meredith was to work at press, Potts at
bookbinding, which he, by agreement, was to teach them, though he knew
neither one nor the other. John ----, a wild Irishman, brought up to
no business, whose service, for four years, Keimer had purchased[83]
from the captain of a ship; he, too, was to be made a pressman. George
Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time for four years he had likewise
bought, intending him for a compositor, of whom more presently; and
David Harry, a country boy, whom he had taken apprentice.

I soon perceived that the intention of engaging me at wages so much
higher than he had been used to give was to

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What it was when they did receive it I never learnt, for they did not communicate it to me, but sent a long message to the Assembly drawn and signed by Paris, reciting my paper, complaining of its want of formality, as a rudeness on my part, and giving a flimsy justification of their conduct, adding that they should be willing to accommodate matters if the Assembly would send out some person of candour to treat with them for that purpose, intimating thereby that I was not such.