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As to myself, I immediately got engaged at Palmer's, at that time a noted printer in Bartholomew Close, with whom I continued nearly a year. I applied very assiduously to my work ; but I expended with Ralph almost all that I earned. Plays and other places of amusement which we frequented together, having exhausted my pistoles, we lived after this from hand to mouth. He appeared to have entirely forgotten his wife and child, as I also, by degrees forgot my engagement with Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one letter, and that merely to inform her that I was not likely to return soon. This was another grand error of my life, which I should be desirous of correcting, were I to begin my career again.
I was employed at Palmer's on the second edition of Woolaston's Religion of Nature. Some of his arguments appearing to me not to be well founded, I wrote a small metaphysical treatise in which I animadverted on those passages. It was entitl.d a Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain. I dedicated it to my friend Ralph, and printed a small number of copies. Palmer upon thi... treated me with more consideration, and regarded me as a young man of talents; tho' he seriously took me to task for the principles of my pamphlet, which he looked upon as abominable. The printing of this work was another error of my life. While I lodged in Little Britain I formed acquaintance with a bookseller of ihe name of Wilcox, whose shop was next door to me. Circulating libraries were not then in use. He had an immense collection of books of all sorts. We agreed that, for a reasonable retribution, of which I have now forgotten the price, I should have free access to his library, and take what books I pleased, which I was to return when I read them. I considered this a
greementas a very great advantage; and I derived from it as much beni fit as was in my power.
My pamphlet tailing into the hands of a surgeon, of the name of Lyons, author of a book entitled Iululihility of Human Judgment, was the occasion of a consiberable intimacy between us. He expressed great esteem for me, came frequently to see me, in order to con. else upon metapin sical subjects, and introduced mi to Dr. Mandeville, author of the Fable of Bees, who had instituted a club at a tavern in Cheapside, of whkn he was the soul: he 'was a facetious and very amusing character. He aUo introduced me, at liaston's coffee-house, to Dr. Pemberton, who promis. d to give me an opportunity of seeing Sir Isaac N. wton, which I very ardently desired ; but he never kept his word.
I ha.I brought some curiosities with me from America ; the principal of which was a purse made of asbestos, whLh fire only purifies. Sir Hans Sloane hearing of it, culled upon me, and invited me to his house in IMoomsbury-squar., where after showing me everv thing that was curious, he prevailed on me to add this piece to his collection ; for which he paid me verv handsomely.
There lodged in the same house with us a young woman, amiliner who had a shop by the side of the Exchange. Livelv and sensible, aud hiving received an education somewhat above her rank, her conversation was very agreeable. Kalph read plays to h.r every evening. They became intimate. She took another lodgmg, and he Jollowed her. Th.y lived some time together; but Ralph being without employment, she having a child, and the profi.s of her business not sufficing for the maintainance of three, he resolved to quit London, and try a country school. This was a plan in which he thought himself likely to succeed, as he wrote a fine hand, and was versed in arithmetic and accounts. But considering the office as beneath him, and expecting some day to make abetter figure in the world, when he should be ashamed of its being known that he had exercised a profession, so little nonorable, he changed his name, and did me the honor of assuming mine. He wrote to me soon after his departure, informing me that he wis settled at a small village in Berkshire. In his letter he recommended Mrs. 1'***, the miliner, to my care, and requested an answer directed to Mr. T'ranklin, schoolmaster at N***.
He continued to write to nie frequently, sending me large fragments of an epic poem he was composing, and which he requested me to criticise and correct. I did so, but not without endeavoring to prevail on him to renounce this pursuit. Young had just published one of his Satires. I copied and sent him a great part of it; in which the au hor demonstrates the folly of cultivating the Muses, from the hope, by their instrumentality, of rising in the world. It was all to no purpose ; paper after paper ol his poem continued to arrive evety post.
Meanwhile Mrs. T*** having lost, on his account, both her friends and her business, was fre-. quently in distress. In this dilemma she had recourse to me, and to extricate her from her difficulties, I lent her all the money 1 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 R.tlpli of my conduct; aud the affair occasioned a breaeh between us. When lie returned to London, he gave F
me to understand that he considered all the obligations he oued me as annihilated by this proceeding; vhence I concluded that I was never to expect the pasmene oi what money I had lent him, or advanced on his account. I was the loss afflicted at this, as he was 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 house of Watts, near Lincoln's Inn Fk Ids, being a s.ill more considerable one than that in which I worked, it was probable that I might find it more advantageous to be employed there.— I offend ni\ self, 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 tlie primers work alternately as compositors and at the press. I drunk nothing but water. The other •workmen, to the number 01 about fifu, were great drinkers o! beer. . c-rried occasionally a large f..rm ol letters in eaih hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employ eel both hands to earn one.— The\ were surprised to see. by this and many other' examples, that the American Aquatic, as thev ustd to call me, was stronger ihan those who drank porter. The beet.boy had sufficient employment duing the the whole day in strving that house alone. Mv feUow-pressnv.tn drank every dav a pint of beer tit.fore breakfast, a pint wi:h bread and cheese for bie ut ist, one betwern breakfast and dinner, one at di.iner, ore ;igain about six o'clock in the afterneon, an'i another alter he had finish-d his dav's work. This custom appeared to me abominiable;
but he had need, he said, of all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.
I endeavored to convince him that bodily strength furnised 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; tha*. then. was a larger portion of flour in a penny loaf, and that consequently if he eat this loaf, and drank a pint of water with it,he would derive more strength t'rom it thaa from a pint of beer. This reasoning, l:owe\i ff did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Slturday night a score of four or five shillings a week lor this cuised beverage ; an expence from which I wat wholly exempt. Thus do these poor devils continue .ill their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and' poverty.
At the end of a few weeks, Watt3 having. occasion for me abc.ve staiis as a compositor, 1 quitted the press. The compositors tl mancled ol me garnish money afresh. This I consir> r"d as an imposition, having already paid below. The mubter was of the same opinion and desired me not to comply. I thus renia'ned 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 tmpracticed upon me. 1 found my letters mixed, rnv pages transposed, my matter broken, &c. &c. all which was attributed to the spirit that haunted the chapel,* and tormented those who were not regularly admitted. I was at last obliged to submit to pay, notwithstanding the protection of the mas
* Printing houses in general are thus denominated by the workmen ; the spirit they call by the name of Ralfih.