The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin/Section Twenty One
Section Twenty One
Ralph and I were inseparable Companions. We took Lodgings together in Little Britain at 3/6 per Week, as much as we could then afford. He found some Relations, but they were poor & unable to assist him. He now let me know his Intentions of remaining in London, and that he never meant to return to Philadelphia. He had brought no Money with him, the whole he could muster having been expended in paying his Passage. I had 15 Pistoles: So he borrowed occasionally of me, to subsist while he was looking out for Business. He first endeavored to get into the Playhouse, believing himself qualify’d for an Actor; but Wilkes, to whom he apply’d, advis’d him candidly not to think of that Employment, as it was impossible he should succeed in it. Then he propos’d to Roberts, a Publisher in Paternoster Row, to write for him a Weekly Paper like the Spectator, on certain Conditions, which Roberts did not approve. Then he endeavor’d to get Employment as a Hackney Writer to copy for the Stationers & Lawyers about the Temple: but could find no Vacancy.
I immediately got into Work at Palmer’s, then a famous Printinghouse in Bartholomew Close; and here I continu’d near a Year. I was pretty diligent; but spent with Ralph a good deal of my Earnings in going to Plays & other Places of Amusement. We had together consum’d all my Pistoles, and now just rubb’d on from hand to mouth. He seem’d quite to forget his Wife & Child, and I by degrees my Engagements with Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one Letter, & that was to let her know I was not likely soon to return. This was another of the great Errata of my Life, which I should wish to correct if I were to live it over again. In fact, by our Expenses, I was constantly kept unable to pay my Passage.
At Palmer’s I was employ’d in composing for the second Edition of Woollaston’s Religion of Nature. Some of his Reasonings not appearing to me well-founded, I wrote a little metaphysical Piece, in which I made Remarks on them. It was entitled, A Dissertation on Liberty & Necessity, Pleasure and pain. I inscrib’d it to my Friend Ralph. I printed a small Number. It occasion’d my being more consider’d by Mr Palmer, as a young Man of some Ingenuity, tho’ he seriously expostulated with me upon the Principles of my Pamphlet which to him appear’d abominable. My printing this Pamphlet was another Erratum.