Abbildungen der Seite

ter, grew more and more attach'd to me on that account, as well as from the similarity of our studies. He at length proposed to me travel. ling all over Europe together, supporting ourselves everywhere by working at our business. I was once inclined to it; but, mentioning it to my good friend, Mr. Denham, with whom I often spent an hour when I had leisure, he dissuaded me from it, advising me to think only of returning to Pennsylvania, which he was now about to do.

I must record one trait of this good man's character. He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failed in debt to a number of people, compounded and went to America. There, by a close application to business as a merchant, he acquir'd a plentiful fortune in a few years. Returning to England in the ship with me, he invited his old creditors to an entertainment, at which he thank'd them for the easy composition they had favored him with, and, when they expected nothing but the treat, every man at the first remove found under his plate an order on a banker for the full amount of the unpaid remainder, with interest.

He now told me he was about to return to Philadelphia, and should carry over a great quantity of goods, in order to open a store there. He propos'd to take me over as his clerk, to keep his books, in which he would instruct me, copy his letters, and attend the store. He added, that, as soon as I should be

acquainted with mercantile business, he would
promote me by sending me with a cargo of
flour and bread, etc., to the West Indies, and
procure me commissions from others which
would be profitable ; and, if I manag'd well,
would establish me handsomely. The thing
pleas'd me ; for I was grown tired of London,
remembered with pleasure the happy months I
had spent in Pennsylvania, and wish'd again
to see it; therefore I immediately agreed on
the terms of fifty pounds a year, Pennsylvania
money ; less, indeed, than my present gettings
as a compositor, but affording a better prospect.

I now took leave of printing, as I thought,
for ever, and was daily employ'd in my new
business, going about with Mr. Denham among
the tradesmen to purchase various articles, and
seeing them pack'd up, doing errands, calling
upon workmen to dispatch, etc.; and, when all
was on board, I had a few days' leisure. On
one of these days, I was, to my surprise, sent
for by a great man I knew only by name, a Sir
William Wyndham, and I waited upon him,
He had heard by some means or other of my
swimming from Chelsea to Blackfriar's, and of
my teaching Wygate and another young man
to swim in a few hours. He had two sons,
about to set out on their travels; he wish'd to
have them first taught swimming, and proposed
to gratify me handsomely if I would teach
them. They were not yet come to town, and
my stay was uncertain, so I could not under-
take it; but from this incident I thought it


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

likely that, if I were to remain in England and open a swimming-school, I might get a good deal of money ; and it struck me so strongly, that, had the overture been sooner made me, probably I should not so soon have returned to America. After many years, you and I had something of more importance to do with one of these sons of Sir William Wyndham, become Earl of Egremont, which I shall meation in its place.

Thus I spent about eighteen months in London ; most part of the time I work'd hard at my business, and spent but little upon myself except in seeing plays and in books. My friend Ralph had kept me poor ; he owed me about twenty-seven pounds, which I was now never likely to receive; a great sum out of my small earnings ! I lov'd him, notwithstanding, for he had many amiable qualities. I had by no means improv'd my fortune ; but I had picked up some very ingenious acquaintance, whose conversation was of great advantage to me ; and I had read considerably.

We sail'd from Gravesend on the 23d of July, 1726. For the incidents of the voyage, I refer you to my Journal, where you will find them all minutely related. Perhaps the most important part of that journal is the plan to be found in it, which I formed at sea, for regulating my future conduct in life. It is the more remark. able, as being formed when I was so young, and yet being pretty faithfully adhered to quite thro' old age.

[ocr errors][merged small]

A friendly correspondence as neighbors and old acquaintances had continued between me and Mr. Read's family, who all had a regard for me from the time of my first lodging in their house. I was often invited there and consulted in their affairs, wherein I sometimes was of service. I piti'd poor Miss Read's* unfortunate situation, who was generally dejected, seldom cheerful, and avoided company. I considered my giddiness and inconstancy when in London as in a great degree the cause of her unhappiness, tho' the mother was good enough to think the fault more her own than mine, as she had prevented our marrying before I went thither, and persuaded the other match in my absence. Our mutual affection was revived, but there were now great objections to our union. The match was indeed looked upon as invalid, a preceding wife being said to be living in England ; but this could not easily be prov'd, because of the distance ; and, tho' there was a report of his death, it was not certain. Then, tho' it should be true, he had left many debts,

* She had in the interval made an unhappy marriage, and was separated from her husband.

which his successor might be call'd upon to
pay. We ventured, however, over all these
difficulties, and I took her to wife, September
Ist, 1730.

None of the inconveniences hap-
pened that we had apprehended ; she proved a
good and faithful helpmate, assisted me much
by attending shop; we throve together, and
have ever mutually endeavor'd to make each
other happy. Thus I corrected that great er-
ratum as well as I could. *

About this time, our club meeting, not at a tavern, but in a little room of Mr. Grace's, set apart for that purpose, a proposition was made by me, that, since our books were often referr'd to in our disquisitions upon the queries, it might be convenient to us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted ; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we lik'd to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole. It was lik'd and agreed to, and we fill'd one end of the room with such books as we could best spare. The number was not so great as we expected ; and tho' they had been of great use, yet some inconveniences occurring for want of due care of them, the collection, after about a year, was separated, and each took his books home again.

[ocr errors]


* Mrs. Franklin survived her marriage over forty years. She died December 19, 1774.-ED.

« ZurückWeiter »