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don. He sailed with the belief that he was to have letters of introduction and letters of credit, that he was to buy types, paper, and a press, and return to America a master printer. He reached London to find Keith a knave and himself a dupe.
Homeless, friendless, and with but fifteen pistoles in his pocket, he now walked the streets of London in search of work. This he found at a great printing-house in Bartholomew Close, and for a year toiled as compositor, earning good wages and squandering them on idle companions, lewd women, treats and shows.
As he stood at the case it fell to his lot to set type for Wollaston's "Religion of Nature Delineated." No better specimen exists of the theological writings of that day. It was the forerunner of Butler's "Analogy" and Paley's "Natural Theology." It was an attempt to prove that, had the Bible never been written, there would still be found in the natural world around us manifest reasons for being regular at church, for believing the soul to be immortal, for not doing any of the innumerable things the ten commandments forbid. As he composed the book, Franklin despised it, and soon began to write a little pamphlet of his own in refutation. The pamphlet he called "A Dis
sertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." But when he had printed a hundred copies and given a few away, he grew ashamed of his own work, and so thoroughly suppressed it that but two copies of the original edition are now known to be extant. Were none in existence the loss would be trivial, for the pamphlet adds nothing to his just fame.
The pamphlet he divided in the true theological manner into two sections. One he called "Liberty and Necessity," and the other "Pleasure and Pain." "There is," said he, “a first Mover called God, the maker of all things. God is said to be all-wise, all-powerful, allgood. If he is all-wise, then whatever he does must be wise. If he is all-good, then whatever he does must be good. If he is all-powerful, then nothing can exist against his will; and as nothing can exist against his will, and, being all-good, he can will nothing but good, it follows that nothing but good can exist. Therefore evil does not exist. Again, if a creature is made by God, it must depend on God, and get its powers from him, and act always according to his will, because he is all-powerful. But, being all-good, his will is always for good, and the creature, being forced to obey it, can do nothing but what is good; and therefore evil does not exist. The creature, once more, being
thus limited in its actions, being able to do only such things as God wills, can have no free will, liberty, or power to refrain from an action. But if there is no such thing as free will in creatures, there can be neither merit nor demerit in their actions; therefore every creature must be equally esteemed by God."
This much settled, Franklin proceeds to the second part, on Pleasure and Pain. "Every creature," says he, "is capable of feeling uneasiness or pain. This pain produces desire to be freed from it in exact proportion to itself. The accomplishment of the desire produces an equal amount of pleasure. Pleasure therefore is equal to Pain. From all this it follows that Pleasure and Pain are inseparable and equal; that, being inseparable, no state of life can be happier than the present; that, being equal and contrary, they destroy each other, and that life therefore cannot be better than insensibility, for a creature that has ten degrees of pleasure taken from ten degrees of pain has nothing left, and is on an equality with a creature insensible to both."
The gist of his pamphlet may be briefly stated to be this: There are no future rewards and punishments, because all things and creatures are equally good and equally esteemed by God. There is no reason to believe that a fu
ture life can be happier than the present. There is no reason to believe in a future life. is no reason to believe that man is any better than the brutes. There is no religion. Dr. Wollaston had declared, "The foundation of religion lies in that difference between the acts of men which distinguishes them into good, evil, indifferent." To prove that no such difference existed was the purpose of Franklin's essay.
Though the essay proved nothing, it brought him friends. Limited as the circulation was, a copy fell into the hands of the once famous author of "The Infallibility of Human Judgment." He admired the pamphlet, sought out Franklin and brought him to a club of skeptics that gathered nightly at "The Horns." There he met Bernard de Mandeville, who wrote "The Fable of the Bees," and Henry Pemberton, who still has a place in biographical dictionaries. Pemberton promised to introduce the lad to Isaac Newton, but the opportunity never served.
Irreligious, lewd, saving to very meanness, yet a spendthrift and a waste-all, the boy had now reached a crisis in his career. Ashamed of himself and of his life, a feeling of unrest took possession of him. In hopes of making better wages, he quit the printing-house in Bartholomew Close, and found employment at another
near Lincoln's Inn Fields. Yet even this did not satisfy, and for one while he thought of setting up a swimming-school, and for another, of wandering over Europe supporting himself by his trade. From both of these follies he was saved by one Denman. Denman had once been a Bristol merchant; had failed, and emigrated to America; had retrieved his fortunes, and, to pay his debts, had gone back to England on the same ship with Franklin. It is certain that on one occasion Benjamin went to Denman for advice, and it is not unlikely that he now went again. However this may be, Denman gave him a clerkship, took him back to Philadelphia, and placed him in a shop. There, at twenty, the lad began to keep books, sell goods, learn the secrets of mercantile affairs, and was fast becoming a merchant, when his employer died, and he was forced to earn his bread as foreman of Keimer's establishment.
His duty at Keimer's was to reduce chaos to order, to mix ink, cast type, mend the presses, make cuts for the New Jersey paper-money bills, bind books, and watch the movements of the two redemptioners and three apprentices who served as compositors, pressmen, and devils. It was at this time that Benjamin founded the Junto, wrote his famous epitaph, grew religious, composed a liturgy for his own use, and