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DR. FRANKLIN. 8»
minutely related. We landed at Philadelphia on the 11th of the following October.
Keith had been deprived of his office of governor, and was succeeded by Major Gordon. I met him walking in the streets as a private individual. He appeared a little ashamed at seeing me, but passed on without saying any thing. I should have been equally ashamed myself at meeting Miss Read, had not her family, justly des
fiairing of my return after reading my letter, advised her to give me up, and marry a potter, of the name of Rogers; to which she consented: but he never made her happy, and she soon separated from him, refusing to cohabit with him, or even bear his name, on account of a report which prevailed, of his having another wife. His skill in his profession had seduced Miss Read's parents; but he was as bad a subject as he was excellent as a workman. He involved himself in debt, and fled, in the year I727 or 1728, to the West Indies, where he died.
During my absence Keimer had taken a more con siderahle house, in which he kept a shop, that was well supplied with paper, ar.i various other articles. He had procured some new types, and a number of workmen; among whom, however, there was not one who was good for any thing; and he appeared not to want business.
Mr. Denham took a warehouse in Water-street, where we exhibited our commodities. I applied myself closely, studied accounts, and became in a short time very expert in trade. We lodged and eat together. He was sincerely attached to me, and acted towards me as if he had been my father. On my side, I respected and loved him. My situation wa happy; but it was a happiness of no tong duration
Early in February, 1727, when I entered into my twenty-second year, we were both taken ill. I was attacked with a pleurisy, which had nearly carried me off; I suffered terribly, and considered it as all over with me. I felt indeed a sort of disappointment when I found myself likely to recover, and regretted that I had still to experience, sooner or later, the same disagreeable scene agam.
04 LHE OF
I have forgotten what was Mr. Denham's disorder; but it was a tedious one, and he at last sunk under it. He left me a small legacy in his will, as a testimony of his friendship; and I was once more abandoned to myself in the wide world, the warehouse being confided to the care of the testamentary executor, who dismissed me.
My brother-in-law, Holmes, who happened to be at Philadelphia, advised me to return to my former
Erofession; and Keimer offered me a very considerable salary if I would undertake the management of his printing-office, that he might devote himself entirely to the superintendence of his shop. His wife and relations in London had given me a bad character of him; and I was loath, for the present, to have any concern with him. I endeavoured to get employment as a clerk to a merchant; but not readily finding a situation, I was induced to accept Keimer's proposal.
The following were the persons I found in his printing-house.
Hugh Meredith, a Pennsylvanian, about thirty-five years of age. He had been brought up to husbandry, was honest, sensible, had some experience, and was fond of reading; but too much addicted to drinking.
Stephen Potts, a young rustic, just broke from school, and of rustic education, with endowments rather above the common order, and a competent portion of understanding and gaiety; but a little idle. Keimer had engaged these two at very low wages, which he had promised to raise every three months a shilling a week, provided their improvement in the typographic art should merit it. This future increase of wages was the bait he had made use of to ensnare them. Meredith wosto work at the press, and Potts to bind books, which h jad engaged to teach them, though he understood neither himself.
John Savage, an Irishman, who had been brought up to no trade, and whose service, for a period of four years, Keimer had purchased of the captain of a ship. He was also to be a pressman.
George Webb, an Oxford scholar, whose time he had in like manner bought for four years, intend inj him for a compositor. I shall speak more of aim preiently.
Lastly, David Harry, a country lad, who was apprenticed to nim.
I Koou perceived that Keimer's intention, in engaging me at a price so much above what he was accustomed to give, was, that I might form all these raw journeymen and apprentices, who scarcely cost him any thing, and who,'being indentured, would, as soon as they should be sufficiently instructed, enable him to do without me. I nevertheless adhered to my agreement. I put the office in order, which was in the utmost confusion, and brought bis people, by degrees, to pay attention to their work, and to execute it in a more masterly style.
It was singular to see an Oxford scholar in the ion> flition of a purchased servant. He was not more than eighteen years of age; and the following are the particulars he gave me of himself. Bom aL Gloucester, he had been educated at a grammar-school, and had distinguished himself among the scholars by his superior style of acting, when they represented dramatic performances. He wiis member of a literary club in the town; and some pieces of his composition, in prose as well as in verse, had been inserted in the Gloucester papers. From hence he was sent to Oxford, where he remained about a year, but he was not contented, and wished above all things to see London, and become an actor. At length, having received fifteen guineas to pay his quarter's boartf, be decamped with the money from Oxford, hid his gown in a hedge, and travelled to London. There, having no friend to direct him, he fell into bail company, soon squandered'his fifteen guineas, could find no way of being introduced to the actors, became contemptible, pawned his clothes, and was in want of bread. As he was walking along the streets, almost famished with hunger, and not knowing what to do, a recruiting bill was put into his hand, which offered an immediate treat and bounty-money to whoever was disposed to serve in America. He instantly repaired to the house of rendezvous, enlisted himself, was put on board a ship, and conveyed to America*
without ever writing a line to inform his parents what was become of him. His mental vivacity, and good natural disposition, made him an excellent companion; but he was indolent, thoughtless, and to the last degree imprudent.
John, the Irishman, soon ran away. I began to live very agreeably with the rest. They respected me, and the more so as they found Keimer incapable f instructing them, and as they learned sometliingrom me every day. We never worked on a Saturday, it being Keimer's sabbath; so that I had two days a-week for reading.
I increased my acquaintance with persons of knowledge and information in the town. Keimer himself treated me with great civility and apparent esteem; and I had nothing to give me uneasiness but my debt to Vernon, which I was unable to pay, my savings as yet being very little. He had the goodness, however, not to ask me for the money.
Our press was frequently in want of the necessary quantity of letter; and there was no such trade as that of letter-founder in America. I had seen the practice of this art at the house of James, in London; nut had, at the time paid it very little attention, i however contrived to fabricate a mould. I made use of such letters as we had for punches, founded new letters of lead in matrices of clay, and thus supplied, in a tolerable manner, the wants that were most pressing.
I also, upon occasion, engraved various ornaments, made ink, gave an eye to the shop; in short, i was, in every respect the factotum. But useful as I made myself, I perceived that my services became every lay i;f less importance, in proportion as the other lien improved; and when Keimer paid me my second quarter's wages, he gave me to understand that they were too heavy, andthat he thought I ought to make an abatement. He became by degrees less civil, and assumed more the tone of master. He frequently found fault, was difficult to please, and seemed always on the point of coming to an open quarrel with me.
I continued, however, to bear it patiently, conceive
!ng that his ill-humour was partly occasioned by the derangement and embarrassment of his affairs. At last a slight incident broke our connexion. Hearing a noise in the neighbourhood, I put my head out at the window to see what was the matter. Keimer being in the street, observed me, and, in a loud and angry tone, told me to mind my work; adding some reproachful words, which piqued me the more, as they were uttered in the street; and the neighbours, whom the same noise had attracted to the windows, were witnesses of the manner in which I was treated. He immediately came up to the printing-room, and continued to exclaim against me. The quarrel became warm on both sides, and he gave me notice to quit him at the expiration of three months, as had been agreed upon between us 5 regretting that he was obliged to give me so long a term, f told him that his regret was superfluous, as I was ready to quit hirr mstantly; and I took my hat and came out of the house, begging Meredith to take care of some things tvhien I left, and bring them to my lodgings.
Meredith came to me in the evening. We talked for some time upon the quarrel that had taken place. He had conceived a great veneration for me, and was sorry I should quit the house while he remained in it. He dissuaded me from returning to my native country, as I began to think of doing. He reminded me that Keimer owed me more than he possessed: that his creditors began to be alarmed; that he kept his shop in a wretched state, often selling things at prime cost for the sake of ready money, and continually giving credit without keeping any accounts; that of consequence he must very soon fail, which would occasion a vacancy from which I might derive advantage. I objected my want of money. Upon which he informed me that his father had a very high opinion of me, and, from a conversation that had passed between them, he was sure that he would advance whatever might be necessary to establish us, if I was willing to enter [„t '.rtuership with him. "My time with Keimer," rtitaed ho, " will be at an end next spring, hi the mean time we may send to London for our press and types. I know that I am no