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stationers and booksellers." This I acknowledged was desirable. “That being the case," added he, “hold yourself in readiness to go with the Annis." This was ibe annual vessel, and the only one, at that time, which made regular voyages between the ports of London and Pbiladelphia. But the Annis was not to sail for some months. I therefore continued to work with Kei. mer, unhappy respecting the sun which Collins had drawn from me, and almost in continual agony at the thoughts of Vernon, who fortunately made no demand of his inoney till several years after
In the account of iny first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia. I omitted. I believe, a trifling circumstarre, which will not, perhaps, be out of place here. During a calm, which stopped us above Block Island, the crew employed themselves in fishing for cod, of which they caught a great number. I had hitherto adhered to my resolution of not eating any thing that had possessed life; and I considered, on this occasion, agreeably to the maxims of my master Tyron, the capture of every fish as a sort of murder, committed without provocation, since these animals had neither done, Bor were capable of doing, the smallest injury to any one that should justify the measure. This mode of reasoning I conceived to be unanswerable. Mean. whiis, I had formerly been extremely fonů of fish; and, when one of these cods was taken oun of the frying-pan, I thought its flavour delicious. I hesitated sonie time hetween principle and inclination, till at last recollecting, that when the cod had been opened some small fish were found in its belly, I said to myself, if you eat one another, I see no reason why we may not eat you. I accordingly dined on the cod with no small degree of pleasure, and have since continued to eat like the rest of mankind, returning only occa. sionally to my vegetable plan. How convenient does it prove to be a rational animal, that knows how to find or invent a plausible pretext for whatever it has an inclination to do.
continued to live upon good terms with Keimer, who had not the smallest suspicion of my projected ostablishnient. He still retained a portion of his former enthusiasm ; and, being fond of argument, we fre.
quently disputed together. I was so much in the habit of using my Socratic inethod, and so frequently puzzled him by my questions, which appeared at first very distant froni the point in debate, yet, nevertheless, led to it by degrees, involving him in difficulties and contradictions from which he was unable to extricate himself, that he became at last ridiculously cautious, and would scarcely answer the most plain and fa. miliar question without previously asking me-What would you inter from that? Hence he formed so high an opinion of my talents for refutation, that he seriously proposed to me to become his colleague in the establishment of a new religious sect. He was to propagate the doctrinc by preaching, and I to refute every opponent.
When he explained to me his tenets, I found many absurdities which I refused to admit, unless he would agree in turn to adopt some of my opinions. Keimar wore his beard long, because Moses had somewhere said, “Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard." He likewise observed the Sabbath ; and these were with him two very essential points. I disliked them both; but I consented to adopt them, provided he would agree to abstain from animal 1ood. “ I doubt," said he, whether my constitution will be able to sup. port it." I assured him on the contrary, that he would find himself the better for it. He was naturally a glut. ton, and I wished to amuse myself by starving him. He consented to make trial of this regionen, if I would bear him company; and, in reality, we continued it for three months. A woman in ihe neighbourhood prepared and brought us our victuals, to whom I gave R list of forty dishes; in the composition of which there entered neither flesh ror fish. This fancy was the more agreeable to me, as it turned to good account for the whole expense of our living did not exceed for each, eighteen-pence a week.
I have since that period observed several lents with the greatest strictness, and have suddenly returned again to my ordinary diet, without experiencing the smallest inconvenience; which has led me lo regard as of no importance the advice commonly given, of introdacing gradually such alterations of rogimen
I continued it cheerfully; but poor Keimer suffered terribly. Tired of the project, he sighed for the fleshpots of Egypt. At length he ordered a roast pig, and invited me and two of our female acquaintance to dine with him; but the pig being ready a little too soon, he could not resist the temptation, and eat it all up before we arrived.
During the circumstances I have related, I had paid some attentions to Miss Read. I entertained for her the utmost esteem and affection; and I had reason to believe that these sentiments were mutual. But we were both young, scarcely more than eighteen years of age; and, as I was on the point of undertaking a long voyage, her mother thought it prudent to prevent maiters being carried too far for the present, judging that, if marriage was our object, there would be more propriety in it after my return, wien, as at least I expected, I should be established in my business. Perhaps also she thought that my expectations were not so well founded as I imagined.
My most intimate acquaintances at this time were Charles Osborne, Joseph Watson, and James Ralph; young men who were all fond of reading. The two first were clerks to Mr. Charles Brockdon, one of the principal attorneys in the town, and the other, clerk to a merchant. Watson was an upright, pious, and sensible youngman: the others were somewhat more loose in their principles of religion, particularly Ralph, whose faith, as well as that of Collins, I had contributed to shake ; each of whom made me suffer a very adequate punishment. Osborne was sensible, and sincere and affectionate in his friendships, but too .auch inclined to the critic in matters of literature.' Ralph was ingenious and shrewd, genteel in his address, and ex. tremely eloquent. I do not remember to have met with a more agreeable speaker. They were both enamoured of the muses, and had already evinced their passion by some small poetical productions.
It was the custom with us to take a charming walk on Sundays, in the woods that border the Skuylkill. Here we read together, and afterwards conversed on what we read. Ralph was disposed to give himself up entirely to poetry. He flatiered liiniself that fie
should arrive at great eminence in the art, and even acquire a fortune. The sublimest poets, he pretended, when they first began to write, committed as many faults as himself. Osborne endeavoured to dissuade him, by assuring him that he had no genius for poetry, and advised him to stick to the trade in which he had been brought up. "In the road of commerce," said he, “you will be sure, by diligence and assiduity, though you have no capital, of so far succeeding as to be employed as a factor; and may thus, in time, ac. quire the means of setting up for yourself.” I con. curred in these sentiments, but at the same time ex. pressed my approbation of amusing ourselves some. time with poetry, with a view to in.prove our style, In consequence of this it was proposed, that, at our next meeting, each of us should bring a copy of versus of his own composition. Our object in this competi. tion was to benefit each other by our mutual remarks, criticisms, and corrections; and as style and expression were all we had in view, we excluded every idea of invention, by agreeing that our task should be a version of the eighteenth psalm, in which is described the descent of the Deity.
The time of our meeting drew near, when Ralph called upon me, and told me that his performance was ready. I informed him that I had been idle, and, not much liking the task, had done nothing. He show.. ed me his piece, and asked me what I thought of it. I expressed myself in terms of warm approbation; because it really appeared to have considerable merit. He then said, “Osborne will never acknowledge the smallest degree of excellence in any production of mine. Envy alone dictates to him a thousand ani. madversions. Of you, he is not so jealous: I wish, therefore, you would take the verses, and produce them as your own. I will pretend not to have had leisure to write any thing. We shall then see in what manner he will speak of them. I agreed to this little artifice, and immediately transcribed the verses to prevent all suspicion.
We met. Watson's performance was the first tint was read. It had some beauties, but many faults. We next read Osborne's, which was much lottet.
- Ralph did it justice, remarking a few imperfectious, and applauding such parts as were excellent. He had himself nothing to show. It was now my turn. I made soine difficulty ; seemed as if I wished to be excused; pretended that I had no tiire to make corrections, &c. No excuse, however, was adinissible, the piece must be produced. It was read and re-read. Waison and Osborne immediately resigned the palm, and united in applauding it. Ralph alone made a few remarks, and proposed some alterations; but I de fended my text. Osborne agreed with me, and told Ralph that he was no more able to criticise than he was able to write.
When Osborne was alone with me, he expressed himself still more strongly in favour of what he considered as my performance. He pretended that he had put some restraint on himself before, apprehensive of my construing his commendations into flattery. “ But who would have supposed,” said he," Franklin to be capable of such a composition? What paint ing, what energy, what fire! He has surpassed the original. In his common conversation he appears not lo hare a choice of words; he hesitates, and is at a loss; and yet, good God, how he writes."
At our next meeting, Ralph discovered the trick we liad played Osborne, who was rallied without mercy.
By this adventure Ralph was fixed in his resolution of becoming a poet. I left nothing unattempted to divert him from his purpose; but he persevered, till at last the reading of Pope* effected his cure: he be. came, however, a very tolerable prose writer. I shall speak more of him hereafter; but as I shall probably have no farther occasion to mention the other two, 1 ought to observe here, that Watson died a few ytars after in my arms. He was greatly regretted; for he was the best of our society. Osborne went to the islands where he gained considerable reputation as a barrister, and was getting money; but he died young.
* Probably the Duneiad, where we find him thus immor ialized by the author:
Silence ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howls