Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI Philadelphia's Youngest Master-Printer

I

THE first customer for the new printing firm of Franklin and Meredith appeared almost as soon as they had opened their London-bought outfit. He was a countryman fetched by an acquaintance who had found him in the street inquiring for a printer. The job brought five shillings. Franklin says it gave him more pleasure than any crown earned afterwards, and made him the more disposed to help young beginners. The printshop occupied quarters near the old Philadelphia market on High Street, later Market Street. They paid twenty-four pounds a year for it, but eased the burden by subletting rooms to Thomas Godfrey, the meticulous member of the Junto, and his family.

One day a bearded raven stopped at the door. His name was Samuel Mickle, an elderly and prominent citizen. Seeing Benjamin's beaming countenance, he lifted up his voice and began to croak. There was no chance for the new firm to succeed, he said; the recent boom in Philadelphia couldn't last. There was nothing but ruin and desolation to look forward to. He cited at great length a list of recent failures. Then, seeing that he had reduced the hopeful Franklin to a state of misery, he resumed his walk with a satisfied feeling of having done a good day's work.

But the Junto members were already exerting themselves to recommend business to the new firm, and soon Franklin

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