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From this period I began to contract acquamtance with such young people of the town as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings with them agreeably, while at the same time I gained money by my industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contented. I thus forgot Boston as much as possible, and wished every one to be ignorant of the place of my residence, except my friend Collins, to whom I wrote and who kept my secret.
An incident, however arrived, which sent me home much sooner than I proposed. I had a brother in-law, of the name of Robert Holmes, master of a trading sloop from Boston to Delaware.—' Being at Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, he heard from me, and wrote to inform me cf the chagrin which my sudden departure occasioned my parents, and of the affection which they still en-' tertained for me, assuring me that, if I would return, every thing should be adjusted to my satisfaction ; and he was verv pressing in his entreaties. I answered his letter, thanked him for his advice, and explained the reasons which had induced me to quit Boston with such force and clearness, that he was convined I had been less to blame than hi* had imagined.
Sir William Keith, governor of the province, was at Newcastle at the time. Captain Holmes being by chance in his company when he received my letter, took occasion to speak of me, and shewed it him. The governor read it, and appeared surprized when he learned my age. He thought me, he said, a young man of verv promising talents, and that, of consequence, I ought to be encouraged ; that there were at Philadelphia none but very ignorant printers, and that if I were to set up for myself, he had no doubt of my success ; that for his own part, he would procure me all the public business, and
wouldirentier hie everv other service in fiis power. My brother in-law related all this to me afterwards at Boston; but I knew nothing of it at the time; when one day Keimer and I being at work together near the window, we saw the governor and another gentleman, colonel French of Newcastle, handsomely dressed, cross the street, and made directly for our house. We heard them at the door, and Keimer, believmg it to be a visit to himself, went immediately down : but the governor enquired for me, came up stairs, and with a condescention and politeness to which I had not at all been accustomed, paid me many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, obligingly reproached me for not having made myself known to him on my arrival in the town, and wished me to accompany him to a tavern, where he and colonel French were going to taste some excellent Madeira wine.
I was, I Confess, somewhat surprised, and 'KeiIner appeared thunderstruck. I went however with the governor and the colonel to a tavern at the corner of Third street, where, while we were drinking the Madeira, he proposed to me to establish a printing-house. He sat forth the probabilities of success, and himself and colonel French assured me that I should have their protection and influence in obtaining" the printing of the public papers of both governments ; and as I appeared to doubt whether my father would assist me in this enterprise, Sir William said that he would give me a letter to him, in which he would represent the advantages of the; scheme, in a light which he bad no doubt would determine him. It was thus concluded that I would return to Boston by the first vessel, with the letter of recommendation from the governor to my father. Meanwhile the project was to be kept secret and I Continued to work for Keimer as before.
The governor sent every now and then to invite ine to dine with him. I considered this as a very great honor ; and I was the more sensible of it, as he conversed with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.. , Towards the end of April 1724, a small vess'el was ready to sail for Boston. I took leave of Keimer, upon the pretext of going to see my parents. The governor gave me a long letter, in which he said many flattering things^af me to my father; and strongly recommended the project of my settling at Philadelphia, as a thing which could not fail to make my fortune.
Going down the bay we struck on a flat, and sprung a leak. The weather was very tempestuous, and we were obliged to pump without intermission ; I took my turn. We arrived however safe and sound at Boston, after about a fortnight's passage.
I had been absent seven complete months, and my relations, during that interval, had received no intelligence of me; my brother-in-law, Holmes, was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My unexpected appearance surprized the family j but they were all delighted at seeing me again, and, except my brother, welcomed me home. I went to him at the printing-office. I was better dressed than T had ever been while in his service: I had a Complete suit of clothes, new and neat, a watch in. my pocket, and my purse was furnished with nearly five pounds sterling money. He gave me no very civil reception, and having eyed me from head to foot, resumed his work.
The workmen asked me with eargerness where I had been, wb.at sort of a country it was and how t liked it. X. spoke in the highest terms of Philadelphia, the happy life we led there, and expressed my intention of going back again. One of them asking what sort of money we had, I displayed before them a handful of silver, which I drew from pocket. This was a curiosity to which they were not accustomed, paper being the current money at Boston. I failed not after this to let them see my watch; and at last, my brother continuing sullen and out of humor, I gave them a shilling to drink, and took my leave. This visit stung my brother to the soul; for when, shortly after, my mother spoke to him of a reconciliation, and a desire to see us upon good terms, he told her that I had so insulted him before his men that he would never forget or forgive it: in this, however, he was mistaken.
The governor's letter appeared to excite in my father some surprise; but he said little. After some days, Capt. Holmes being returned, he showed it him, asking him if he knew Keith, and what sort of amah he was: adding, that, in his opinion, it proved very little discernment to think of setting up a boy in business who for three years to come would not be of an age to be ranked in the class of men. Holmes said every thing he could in favor of the scheme ; but my father firmly maintained its absurdity, and at last gave a positive refusal. He wrote, however, a civil letter to Sir William, thanking him for the protection he had so obligingly offered me, but refusing to assist me for the present, because he thought me too young to be entrusted with the conduct of so important an enterprise, and which would require so considerable a sum of money.
Mv old comrade Collins, who was a clerk in the post office, charmed with the account I gave of my »ew residence, expressed a desire of going thither $
determination, he 8et off before me, by land, for Rhode-Island, leav. ing his books, which formed a handsome collection: in mathematics and natural philosophy, to be conveyed with mine to New-York, where he proposed to wait for me.
My father, though he could not approve Sir William's proposal, was yet please that I had obtained so advantageous a recommendation as that of a person of his rank, and that my industry and (Economy had enabled me to equip myself so handsomely in so short a period. Seeing no appearance of accommodatingjnafters between my brother and me, he consented to my return to Philadelphia, advised me to be civil to every body, to endeavor to obtain general esteem, and avoid satire and sarcasm, to which he thought I was too much inclined; adding that with perseverance and prudent (economy, I might, bv the time I became of age, save enough to establish myself in business; and that if a small sum should then be wanting, he would undertake to supply it%
This was all I could obtain from him, except some trifling presents, in token of friendship from him and my mother. I embarked once more for New-York, furnished at this time with their approbation and blessing. The sloop having touched at Newport in Rhode-Island, I paid a visit to my brother John, who had for some years been settled there, and was married. He had always been attached to me, and received me with great affection. One of his friends, whose name was Vernon, having a debt of about thirty-six pounds due to him in Pennsylvania, begged me to receive it for him, and keep'the money till I should hear from him: at* cordi'nglyTie gave me an order for that purpose. This affair occasioned me, in the sequel, much un< easiness.