The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 57


Hugh Meredith, Stephen Potts, and George Webb I have characteriz'd

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune, generous, lively, and
witty; a lover of punning and of his friends.

And William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, about my age, who had the
coolest, dearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of
almost any man I ever met with. He became afterwards a merchant of
great note, and one of our provincial judges. Our friendship continued
without interruption to his death, upward of forty years; and the club
continued almost as long, and was the best school of philosophy,
morality, and politics that then existed in the province; for our
queries, which were read the week preceding their discussion, put us
upon reading with attention upon the several subjects, that we might
speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired better habits of
conversation, every thing being studied in our rules which might
prevent our disgusting each other. From hence the long continuance of
the club, which I shall have frequent occasion to speak further of

But my giving this account of it here is to show something of the
interest I had, every one of these exerting themselves in recommending
business to us. Breintnal particularly procur'd us from the Quakers
the printing forty sheets of their history, the rest being to be done
by Keimer; and upon this we work'd exceedingly hard, for the price was
low. It was a folio, pro patria size, in pica, with long primer notes.
I compos'd of it a sheet a day, and Meredith worked it off at press; it
was often eleven at night, and sometimes later, before I had finished
my distribution for the next day's work, for the little jobbs sent in
by our other friends now and then put us back. But so determin'd I was
to continue doing a sheet a day of the folio, that one night, when,
having impos'd my forms, I thought my day's work over, one of them by
accident was broken, and two pages reduced to pi, I immediately
distributed and compos'd it over again before I went to bed; and this
industry, visible to our neighbors, began to give us character and
credit; particularly, I was told, that mention being made of the new
printing-office at the merchants' Every-night club, the general opinion
was that it must fail, there being already two printers in the place,
Keimer and Bradford; but Dr. Baird (whom you and I saw many years after
at his native place, St. Andrew's in

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Text Comparison with Franklin's Way to Wealth; or, "Poor Richard Improved"

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and T.
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& T.
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' They joined in desiring him to speak his mind, and, gathering round him, he proceeded as follows: 'Friends,' says he, 'the taxes are indeed very heavy; and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us.
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" Let us then up and be doing, and doing to the purpose: so by diligence shall we do more with less perplexity.
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"Fly pleasures and they will follow you.
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" Beware of little expences; "A small leak will sink a great ship," as Poor Richard says; and again, "Who dainties love shall beggars prove;" and moreover, "Fools make feasts, and wise men eat them.
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For, in another place, he says, "Many have been ruined by buying good pennyworths.
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" When you have bought one fine thing, you must buy ten more, that your appearance may be all of a piece; but Poor Dick says, "It is easier to suppress the first desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.
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And when you have got the Philosopher's stone, sure you will no longer complain of bad times, or the difficulty of paying taxes.
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The frequent mention he made of me must have tired any one else; but my vanity was wonderfully delighted with it, though I was conscious that not a tenth part of the wisdom was my own, which he ascribed to me; but rather the gleanings that I had made of the sense of all ages and nations.