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to extricate her from her difficulties, I lent her all the money I could spare. I felt a little too much fondness for her. Having at that time no ties of religion, and taking advantage of her necessitous situation, I attempted liberties (another error of my life,) which she repelled with becoming indignation. She informed Ralph of my conduct; and the affair occasioned a breach between us. When he returned to London, he gave me to understand that he considered all the obligations he owed me as annihilated by this proceeding; whence I concluded that I was never to expect the payment of what money I had lent him, or advanced on his account. I was the less afflicted at this, as he was wholly unable to pay me; and as by losing his friendship, I was relieved at the same time from a very heavy burden.
I now began to think of laying by some money. The printing-office of Watts, near Lincoln's-inn-fields, being a still more considerable one than that in which I worked, it was probablo I might find it more advantageous to be employed there. I offered myself, and was accepted ; and in this house I continued during the remainder of my stay in London.
On my entrance I worked at first as a pressman, conceiving that I had need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America, where the printers work alternately as compositors and at the press. I drank nothing but water." The other workmen, to the number of about fifty, were great drinkers of beer. I carried occasionally a large form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see, by this and many other examples, that the American Aquatic, as they used to call me, was stronger than those who drank porter. The beer boy had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house alone. My fellow pressman drank every day a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again about six o'clock in the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work, This custom appeared to me abominable; but he had need, he said, of all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work. * I endeavoured to convince him that the bodily strength furnished by the beer could only be in proportion to the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was a larger portion of four in a penny loaf, and that consequently, if he ate this loaf, and drank a pint of
water with it, he would derive more strength from it than from a pint of beer. This reasoning, however, did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Saturday night a score of four or five shillings a week for this cursed beverage ; an expense from which I was wholly exempt. Thus do these poor devils continue all their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty.
At the end of a few weeks, Watts having occasion for me above stairs as a compositor, I quitted the press. The compositors demanded of me garnish money afresh. This I considered as an imposition, hava ing already paid below. The master was of the same opinion, and desired me not to comply. I thus remained two or three weeks out of the fraternity. I was consequently looked upon as excommunicated; and whenever I was absent, no little trick that malice could suggest was left unpractised upon me. I found my letters mixed, my pages transposed, my matter broken, &c. &c. all which was attributed to the spirit that haunted the chapel,* and tormented those that were not regularly admitted. I was at last obliged to submit to pay, notwithstanding the protection of the master; convinced of the folly of not keeping up a good understanding with those among whom we are destined to live.
After this I lived in the utmost harmony with my fellow labourers, and soon acquired considerable int fluence among them. I proposed some alteration in the laws of the chapel, which I carried without opposition. My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they procured, like me, from a neighbouring house, a good basin of warm gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and nut.* meg. This was a much better breakfast, which did not cost more than a pint of beer, namely, three halfpence, and at the same time preserved the head clearer. Those who continued to gorge themselves with beer, often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting to pay their score. They had then recourse to me, to become security for them; their light, as they used to call it, being out. I attended at the pay-table every Saturday evening, to take up the little sum which I had made myself answerable for; and which sometimes amount ed to nearly thirty shillings a week.
* Printing-houses in general are thus denominated hy the workmen : the Spirit thay call by the name ore" Ralpa.
This circumstance, added to my reputation of being a tolerable good gabber, or, in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept up my importance in the chapel. I had besides recommended myself to the esteem of my master by my assiduous application to business, never observing Saint Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is commonly best paid ; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant manner.
My lodging in Little Britain being too far from the printing-office, I took another in Duke Street, opposite the Roman Catholic chapel. It was at the back of an Italian warehouse. The house was kept by a widow, who had a daughter, a servant, and a shop-i boy; but the latter slept out of the house. After sending to the people with whom I lodged in Little Britain to inquire into my character, she agreed to take me in at the same price, three and sixpence a week; contenting herself, she said, with so tittle, because of the security she should derive, as they were all women, from having a man lodger in the house.
She was a woman rather advanced in life, the daughter of a clergyınan. She had been educated a Protestant; but her husband, whose memory, she highly revered, had converted her to the Catholic religion She had lived in habits of intimacy with persons of distinction; of whom she knew various anecdotes as far back as the time of Charles II. Being subject to fits of the gout, which often confined her to ber room, she was sometimes disposed to see company. Hers was so amusing to me, that I was glad to pass the evening with her as often as she desired it. Our supper consisted only of half an anchovy a-piece upon a slice of bread and butter, with half a pint of ale between us. But the entertainment was in her conversation.
The early hours I kept, and the little trouble I 06casioned in the family, made her loth to part with me; and when I mentioned another lodging I had found, nearer the printing-office, at two shillings a week, which fell in with my plan of saving, she persuaded me to give it up, making herself an abatement of two shillings: and thus I continued to lodge with her, during the remainder of my abode in London, at eighteenpence a week
In the garret of the house there lived, in a most retired manner, a lady of seventy years of age, of whom I received the following account from my landlady She was a Roman Catholic. In her early years she
had been sent to the continent, and entered a convent with the design of becoming a nun; but the climate not agreeing with her constitution, she was obliged to return to England, where, as there was no monasteries, she made a vow to lead a monastic life, in as rigid a manner as circumstances would permit. She accordingly disposed of all her property to be applied to charitable uses, reserving to herself only twelve pounds a year : and of this small pittance she gave a part to the poor, living on water gruel, and never making use of fire but to boil it. She had lived in this garret a great many years, without paying rent to the successive Catholic inhabitants that had kept the house ; who indeed considered her abode with them as a blessing. A priest caine every day to confess her. “ I have asked her,” said my landlady, “how, living as she did, she could find so much employment for a confessor? To which she answered, that it was impossible to avoid vain thoughts.”
I was once permitted to visit her. She was cheerful and polite, and her conversation agreeable. Her apartment was neat; but the whole furniture consisted of a mattress, a table, on which was a crucifix and a book, a chair, which she gave me to sit on, and over the mantel-piece a picture of St. Veronica displaying her handkerchief, on which was seen the miraculous impression of the face of Christ, which she explained to me with great gravity. Her countenance was pale, but she never experienced sickness; and I may adduce her as another proof how little is sufficient to maintain life and health.
At the printing-house. I contracted an intimacy with a sensible young man of the name of Wygate, who, as his parents were in good circumstances, had received a better education than is common among printers. He was a tolerable Latin scholar, spoke French fluently, and was fond of reading. I taught him, as well as a friend of his, to swim, by taking them twice only into the river ; after which they stood in need of no farther assistance. We one day made a party to go by water to Chelsea, in order to see the College and Don Soltero's curiosities. On our return, at the request of the cornpany, whose curiosity Wygate had excited, I undressed myself, and leaped into the river. I swam from near Chelsea the whole way to Blackfriars Bridge, exhibiting, during my course a variety of feats of activity and address, both upon the surface of the water, as well as under it. This sight occasioned much astonishment and pleasure to those to whom it was iew. In my youth I took great delight
in this exercise. I knew, and could execute, all the evolutions and positions of Thevenot; and I added to them some of my own invention, in which I endeavoured to unite gracefulness and utility. I took a pleasure in displaying them all on this occasion, and was highly flattered with the admiration they excited
Wygate, besides his being desirous of perfecting himself in this art, was the more attached to me from there being, in other respects, a conformity in our tastes and studies. He at length proposed to me to make the tour of Europe with him, maintaining ourselves at the same time by working at our profession. I was on the point of consenting, when I mentioned it to my friend, Mr. Denham, with whom I was glad to pass an hour whenever I had leisure. He dissuaded me from the project, and advised me to think of returning to Philadelphia, which he was about to do himself. I must relate in this place a trait of this worthy man's character.
He had formerly been in business at Bristol, but failing, he compounded with his creditors, and departed for America, where, by assiduous application as a merchant, he acquired in a few years a very considerable fortune. Returning to England in the same vessel with myself, as I have related above, he invited all his old creditors to a feast. When assembled, he thanked them for the readiness with which they had received his small composition; and while they expected nothing more than a simple entertainment, each found under his plate, when it came to be removed, a draft upon a banker for the residue of his debt with interest.
He told me that it was his intention to carry back with him to Philadelphia a great quantity of goods, in order to open a store ; and he offered to take me with him in the capacity of a clerk, to keep his books, in which he would instruct me, copy letters, and superintend the store. He added, that as soon as I had acquired a knowledge of mercantile transactions, he would improve my situation, by sending me with a cargo of corn and flour to the American islands, and by procuring me other lucrative commissions ; so that, with good management and economy, I might in time begin business with advantage for myself,
I relished these proposals. London began to tire me : the agreeable hours I had passed at Philadelphia presented themselves to my mind, and I wished to see them revive. I consequently engaged myself to Mr. Denham, at a salary of fifty pounds a year. This was indeed less than I earned as a compositor, but then I had a much fairer prospect. I took leave, therefore,