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-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 hei "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, acquire the means of setting up for yourself." I concurred in these sentiments, but at the same time expressed my approbation of amusing ourselves sometimes with poetry, with a view to improve our style. In consequence of this it was proposed, that, at our next meeting, each of us should bring a copy of verses of his own composition. Our object in this competition 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 showed 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, " Ofbome will never acknowledge the smallest de, vee of excellence in any production of mine. Envy alone dictates to him a thousand aninadversions. Of you he is not so jealous: I wish,'herefore, 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 that was read. It had some beauties, but many faults. We next read Osborne's, which was much bcttec. Ralph did it justice, remarking a few imperfections, and applauding such parts as were excellent. He had himself nothing to show. It was now my turn. I made some difficulty; seemed as if I wished to be excused; pretended that I had no time to make corrections, &c. No excuse, however, was admissible, the piece must be produced. It was read and re-read. Watson and Osborne immediately resigned the palm, and united in applauding it. Ralph alone made a fevr ternarks, and proposed some alterations; but I defended 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 putsome restraint on himself before, apprehensive of my construing his commendations into flattery. "But who would have supposed," said he, " Franklm to be capaMe;'of such a composition? What painting, what energy, what fire! He has surpassed the original. In his common conversation he appears not to have 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 had 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 hia purpose; but he persevered, till at last the reading of Pope* effected his cure: he hecame, however, a very tolerable prose writer. I shall speak more of him hereafter; hut as I shall probably have no farther occasion to mention the other two, I ought to observe here, that Watson died a few year* Hfter 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 harrister, and was getting money; but he died yoi mg.
* Probably the Punciad, where we find him thus immortalized by the author:
Silence ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howlf
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 his friends; and particularly a letter of credit, in order to obtain the necessary sum for the purchase of my press, types, 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 pomt cf 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 extremely 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 wasmarried 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 f 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 hi* ixlgings. His secretary received me with great 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 I'tdlacJos
fihia, 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 m tho ship, we were looked upon as of 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 French came on board, and showed me many civilities. The passengers upon this paid me more attention, and I was invited, together with my friend Ralph, to occupy the place in the cabin which the return of the Messrs. Hamilton* hart made vacant; an offer which we very readily accepted.
Having learned that the despatches of the Governor had been brought on board by Colonel French, I asked the captain for the letters that were to be entrusted to my care. He told me that they were all put together in the bag, which he could not open at present; but before we reached England, he would give me an opportunity of taking them out. I 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 we had the advantage of the whole of Mr. Hamilton's, who had laid in a very plentiful stock. During the passage, Mr. Denham contracted a friendship for me, which ended only with his life: in other respects the voyage was by no means an agreeable one, aa w had much bad weather.
When we arrived in the river, the captain was at goou a; his word, and allowed me to search in the bag 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 (rom tin direction to be those that were intended for me; particularly one to Mr. Basket, the King'f •rimer. And another to a stationer, who was Urn to* 3
person I called upon. I delivered him the letter as coming from Governor Keith. "I have no acquaint-, nnce," mid he, " with any such person;" and opening the lett sr, "Oh, it is from Riddlesden!" lie exclaimed. "I liave lately discovered him to be a very arrant knave, and wish to have nothing to do with him or his letters." He instantly put the letter into my hand, tv rued upon his 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 . Anew him ever placed any reliance on him, and laughed at my credulity in supposing that the Governor would give me a letter of credit, when he had no credit for himstlf. As I showed some uneasiness respecting what step I should take, he advised 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 settle yourself the mote adv mtageously 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, hy this time, be in Kurope. penhan., who was Hamilton's friend, was of opimon shat he ought to be made acquainted with it; and, in reality, the instant he arrived in England, which was Tory sm.n after, I waited on h'm, and as much from good-will to him, as from resentment against the Governor, put thi< le'ter into his hands. He thanked me •ery siiwerely, the information it contained being of consequence to him; and from that moment bestowed on me his friendship, which afterwards ptoved, on maty occasions, serviceable to me.
But what are we to think of a Governor who riuld