Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

vered, till at last the reading of Pope* effected his cure: he became, 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, I ought to observe here, that Watson died a few years 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. We had seriously engaged, that whoever died first should return, if possible, and pay a friendly visit to the survivor, to give him an account of the other world; but he has never fulfilled his engagement.

The governor appeared to be fond of my company, and frequently invited me to his house. He always spoke of his intention of settling me in business, as a point that was decided. I was to take with me letters of recommendation to a number of friends; and particularly a letter of credit, in order to obtain the necessary sum for the purchase of my press, tyes, and paper. He appointed various times for me to come for these letters, which would certainly be ready; and when I came always put me off to another day.

These successive delays continued till the vessel, whose departure had been several times deferred, Was on the point of setting sail; when I again Went to Sir William's house, to receive my letters and take leave of him. I saw his secretary, Dr. Bard, who told me that the governor was cx

* Probably the Dunciad, where we find him thus imjnortalizud by the author:

Silence, ye wolves, while Raiph to Cynthia howls, And makes night hideous; answer him; ye owls' tremely busy writing, but that he would be down at Newcastle before the vessel, and that the letters would be delivered to me there.

Ralph, though he was married and had a child, determined to accompany me in this voyage. His object was supposed to be the establishing a correspondence with some mercantile houses, in order to sell goods by commission ; but I afterwards learned, that, having reason to be dissatisfied with the parents of his wife, he proposed to himself to leave her on their hands, and never return to America again.

Having taken leave of my friends, and interchanged promises of fidelity with Miss Read, I quitted Philadelphia. At Newcastle the vessel came to anchor. The governor was arrived, and I went to his lodgings. His secretary received me with greaB civility, told me on the part of the governor that he could not see me then, as he was engaged in affairs of the utmost importance, but that he would send the letters on board, and that he wished me, with all his heart, a good voyage and speedy return. I returned, somewhat astonished, to the ship, but still without entertaining the slightest suspicion.

Mr. Hamilton, a celebrated barrister of Philadelphia, had taken a passage to England for himself and his son, and. in conjunction with Mr. Denham a quaker, and Messrs. Oniam and Russel, proprietors of a forge in Maryland, had agreed for the whole cabin, so that Ralph and I were obliged to take up our lodging with the crew. Being unknown to every body in the ship, we were looked upon as the common order of people: but Mr. Hamilton and his son (it was James, who was afterwards governor) left us at Newcastle, and returned to Philadelphia, where he was recalled at a very great expense, to plead the cause of a vessel that had been seized; and just as we were about to sail, colonel

Finch came on board, and shewed me manv ctvHf.ties. The passi ngers upon this paid me more attention, and 1 was.inviud, together with my friend Ralph, to occupy the place in the cabin whit h the return oi' the two Mr. Hamiltons had made vacant; an offer which wc readilv accepted.

Having learned that the dispatches of the governor had been brought on board by coloiiel Fmch, I asked the captain for the letters that were to be entrusted to my care. He told me thai they were all put together in ihe bag, which he could not openi at present; -but before we reached England, he would give me an opportunity of taking them out. 1 was satisfied with this answer, and we pursued our voyage.

The company in the cabin were all very sociable, and we were perfectly well off as to provisions, as in had the advantage of the whole of Mr. Hamilton's, who had laid in a verv plentiful stock. During the passage Mr. Denham contracted a fri. niship for me, w hich ended onlv v ith his life : in other respects the voyage was by rro means an agreeable one, as we had much bad weather. /

When we arrived in the river, th,e .captain was as good as his word, and allowed jne to search the big for the governor's letters. I could not find :a single one with my name written on it, as committed to my care; but I selected six or seven, which I judged from the direction to be those that were intended for me; particularly one to Mr..Basket, the king's printer, and another to a sta ioner, who wa» the first person I called upon. I belivered him the letter as corning from governor Keith. "I have .no acquaintance (said he) with anv such person;" and opening the letter, "Oh, it is from Riddlesden!" he exclaimed. "I have lately disc.ovend him to be a very arrant knave, and I wish to have nothing to do either with him or his letters." He instantly put the letter in my hand, turned upon hia heel, and left me to serve some customers.

I was astonished at finding these letters were not from the governor. Reflecting, and putting circumstances together, I then began to doubt his sincerity. I rejoined my friend Denham, 'and related the whole affair to him. He let me at once into Keith's character. told me there was not the least probability of his having written a single letter; that no one who knew him ever placed any reliance on him, and laughed at my credulity in supposing the governor would give me a letter of credit, when he: had no credit for himself. As 1 showed some uneasiness respecting what step I should take, he ail- / vised me to try to get employment in the house of some printer. You may there, said he, improve yourself in business, and you will be able to setde yourself the more advantageously when you return to America.

We knew already, as well as the stationer, attorney Riddlesden to be a knave. He had nearly ruined the father of Miss Read, by drawing him in to be his security. We learned from his letter^ that he was secretly carrying. on an intrigue, in concert with the governor, to the prejudice of Mr. Hamilton, who it was supposed would by this time be in Europe. Denham, who was Hamilton's friend,' was of opinion that he ought to be made acquainted with it; and in reality the instant he arrived in England, which was very soon after, I waited on him, and, as much from i^ood will to him as resentment against the governor, put the letter into his hantls. He thanked me very sincerely, the information it contained being of consequence to him; and from that moment bestowed on me his friendship, which afterwards proved on many occasions serviceable to me.

But what are we to think of a governor who could play so scurvy a trick, and thus grossly deceive a poor young lad, wholly destitute of experience ?— It was a practice with him. Wishing to please every body, and having little to bestow, he was lavish of promises. He was in other respects sensible and judicious, a veiv tolerable writer, and a good governor for the people ; though not so for the proprietaries, whose instructions he frequently disregarded. Many of our best laws were his work, and established during his administration.

Ralph and I were inseparable companions. We took a lodging together at three-and-sixpence a week, which was as much as we could afford. Hev met with some relations in London, but they were poor, and not able to assist him. He now, for the first time, informed me of his intention to remain in England, and that he had no thoughts of ever returning to Philadelphia. He was totally without money: the little he had been able to raise having. barely sufficed for his passage. I had fifteen pistoles remaining; and to me he had from time to time recourse, while he tried to get employment.

At first, believing himself possessed of talents for the stage, he thought of turning actor; but Wilkes, to whom he applied, frankly advised him to renounce the idea, as it was impossible to succeed. He next proposed to Roberts, a bookseller in PaternosterRow, to write a weekly paper in the manner of the Spectator upon terms to which Roberts would not listen. Lastly, he endeavored to procure employment as a copyist, and applied to the lawyers and stationers about the Temple; but he could find uo vacancy.

« ZurückWeiter »