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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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FRANKLIN IN LONDON

Governor Keith promises Franklin to help in setting up his printing business. The time arrives for him to sail to London, but Franklin has not received recommendations from Keith. He is told that he will receive the letters of recommendation on board ship and that he should proceed with his voyage without any fear or hesitation. Final plans are made. Ralph sails with Franklin, for he wishes to set up his business in selling goods in London. The voyage is pleasant. On board the ship, Franklin makes the acquaintance of Mr. Denham, and their friendship lasts through life. Franklin's only disappointment in the journey is that he receives no letters from Governor Keith.

Franklin arrives in London on December 24, 1724. He soon meets with the stationer, who has received no letter recommending Franklin. Franklin immediately finds his friend Denham and relates his troubles to him. Denham reveals that the Governor is not a man of integrity and has no means of really helping Franklin in his business venture. On the advice of his friend, Franklin finds a job for himself at Palmer House and, as always, prospers. Ralph, on the other hand, tries his hand at several jobs, but finds nothing to his liking; Franklin pays Ralph's expenses for a while until he becomes a village schoolmaster. While in London, Franklin never writes to Ms. Read, a fact that he regrets later in life; he calls it one of his errata that he would like to correct if given the chance. (Errata is a printer's word; when a printer makes mistakes, or errata, he merely prints an editorial apology.)

While at Palmer's, Franklin works on the second edition of Wollaston's Religion of Nature. Inspired by this work, Franklin writes a metaphysical piece entitled "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain." Mr. Palmer reads the documents and takes offense at some of the remarks in the dissertation; Franklin considers this as another of his errata. The pamphlet, in spite of upsetting Palmer, brings Franklin into close association with scientists and writers of his times. His new associations challenge him. He also continues to be an ardent reader. Franklin becomes friends with Wilcox, a book seller, who agrees to lend Franklin books to read. The arrangement leads to the start of circulation libraries.

While Ralph is away from London as a village schoolmaster, he asks Franklin to take care of Mrs. T, with whom Ralph has grown intimate. Franklin also gradually grows fond of the woman and attempts familiarities with her. She rejects Franklin and reports the matter to Ralph, ending the friendship between the two men. Franklin admits that the situation with Mrs. T is another of his errata. During this period in London, Franklin leaves his job at Palmer's and joins Watt's Printing House, where he works for the rest of his stay in London.

At Watt's, Franklin takes up the work of running the press. His fellow pressmen are a strong lot, given to heavy drinking. They called Franklin "Water American", for he only drinks water; he also tries to convince them that beer does not build strength, as they assume. After a period of time, Franklin moves to the composing room, where he is asked to pay five shillings in order to drink with his fellow compositors. Franklin at first refuses to pay the money, and gives in only after much insistence. Even after he pays, Franklin is looked upon as an outsider for a long time. Gradually he becomes friends with some of the compositors and positively influences them. Several of them give up drinking beer and begin to eat simpler foods. Franklin's hard work is once again noticed, and he is promoted to the work of dispatch, which pays better.

Franklin changes his lodging to Duke Street and stays in the house of an elderly widow, who is highly entertaining. They become friends, and she charges him little for his lodging. Franklin also gives another instance, which proves that just a little amount of money can support one's living. He knows a woman who lives like a nun, giving away her estate to charity and living on twelve pounds a year.

Franklin becomes good friends with Wygate. The two of them have many similar interests, but Wygate's greatest interest is in learning how to swim. When Franklin teaches him the sport, Wygate becomes very attached to Franklin. They make plans to travel together in Europe, and Franklin considers opening a swimming school; but their plans are interrupted by Denham, who is planning a return trip to Philadelphia and wants Franklin to join him and work for him. Franklin readily agrees to work with Denham, for he has grown tired of the press work. Franklin sails from London with Denham on July 23, 1726 and reaches Philadelphia on October 11.

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