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then to dine with him, which I considered a great honor; more particularly as he conversed with me in a most affable, familiar, and friendly manner.
About the end of April, 1724, a little vessel offered for Boston. I took leave of Keimer, as going to sce my friends. The Governor gave me an ample letter, saying many flattering things of me to my father, and strongly recommending the project of my setting up at Philadelphia, as a thing that would make my fortune. We struck on a shoal in going down the bay, and sprung a leak; we had a blustering time at sea, and were obliged to pump almost continually, at which I took my turn. We arrived safe however at Boston in about a fortnight. I had been absent seven months, and my friends had heard nothing of me; for my brother Homes was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My unexpected appearance surprised the family; all were however very glad to see me, and made me welcome, except my brother. I went to see him at his printing-house. I was better dressed than ever while in his service, having a genteel new suit from head to foot, a watch, and my pockets lined with near five pounds sterling in silver. He received me not very frankly, looked me all over, and turned to his work again.
The journeymen were inquisitive where I had been, what sort of a country it was, and how I liked it. I praised it much, and the happy life I led in it, expressing strongly my intention of returning to it; and, one of them asking what kind of money we had there, I produced a handful of silver, and spread it before them, which was a kind of raree-show they had not been used to, paper being the money of Boston. Then I took an opportunity of letting them see my watch; and lastly (my brother still grum and sullen) gave them
a dollar to drink, and took my leave. This visit of mine offended him extremely. For, when my mother some time after spoke to him of a reconciliation, and of her wish to see us on good terms together, and that we might live for the future as brothers; he said, I had insulted him in such a manner before his people, that he could never forget or forgive it. In this, however, he was mistaken.
My father received the Governor's letter with some surprise; but said little of it to me for some time. Captain Holmes returning, he showed it to him, and asked him, if he knew Sir William Keith, and what kind of man he was; adding that he must be of small discretion, to think of setting a youth up in business, who wanted three years to arrive at man's estate. Holmes said what he could in favor of the project, but my father was decidedly against it, and at last gave a flat denial. He wrote a civil letter to Sir William, thanking him for the patronage he had so kindly offered me, and declining to assist me as yet in setting up, I being in his opinion too young to be trusted with the management of an undertaking so important, and for which the preparation required a considerable expenditure.
My old companion Collins, who was a clerk in the postoffice, pleased with the account I gave him of my new country, determined to go thither also; and, while I waited for my father's determination, he set out before me by land to Rhode Island, leaving his books, which were a pretty collection in mathematics and natural philosophy, to come with mine and me to New York; where he proposed to wait for me.
My father, though he did not approve Sir William's proposition, was yet pleased that I had been able to obtain so advantageous a character from a person of
such note where I had resided; and that I had been so industrious and careful as to equip myself so handsomely in so short a time; therefore seeing no prospect of an accommodation between my brother and me, he gave his consent to my returning again to Philadelphia, advised me to behave respectfully to the people there, endeavour to obtain the general esteem, and avoid lampooning and libelling, to which he thought I had too much inclination; telling me, that by steady industry and prudent parsimony, I might save enough by the time I was one and twenty to set me up; and that if I came near the matter he would help me out with the rest. This was all I could obtain, except some small gifts as tokens of his and my mother's love, when I embarked again for New York; now with their approbation and their blessing.
The sloop putting in at Newport, Rhode Island, I visited my brother John, who had been married and settled there some years. He received me very affectionately, for he always loved me. A friend of his, one Vernon, having some money due to him in Pennsylvania, about thirty-five pounds currency, desired I would recover it for him, and keep it till I had his directions what to employ it in. Accordingly he gave me an order to receive it. This business afterwards occasioned me a good deal of uneasiness.
At Newport we took in a number of passengers, amongst whom were two young women travelling together, and a sensible, matron-like Quaker lady, with her servants. I had shown an obliging disposition to render her some little services, which probably impressed her with sentiments of good will towards me; for when she witnessed the daily growing familiarity between the young women and myself, which they appeared to encourage; she took me aside, and said,
"Young man, I am concerned for thee, as thou hast no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of the world, or of the snares youth is exposed to; depend upon it, these are very bad women; I can see it by all their actions; and if thee art not upon thy guard, they will draw thee into some danger; they are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, in a friendly concern for thy welfare, to have no acquaintance with them." As I seemed at first not to think so ill of them as she did, she mentioned some things she had observed and heard, that had escaped my notice, but now convinced me she was right. I thanked her for her kind advice, and promised to follow it. When we arrived at New York, they told me where they lived, and invited me to come and see them; but I avoided it, and it was well I did. For the next day the captain missed a silver spoon and some other things, that had been taken out of his cabin, and, knowing that these were a couple of strumpets, he got a warrant to search their lodgings, found the stolen goods, and had the thieves punished. So though we had escaped a sunken rock, which we scraped upon in the passage, I thought this escape of rather more impor
tance to me.
At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived there some time before me. We had been intimate from children, and had read the same books together; but he had the advantage of more time for reading and studying, and a wonderful genius for mathematical learning, in which he far outstripped me. While I lived in Boston, most of my hours of leisure for conversation were spent with him, and he continued a sober as well as industrious lad; was much respected for his learning by several of the clergy and other gentlemen; and seemed to promise making a good
figure in life. But, during my absence, he had acquired a habit of drinking brandy; and I found by his own account, as well as that of others, that he had been drunk every day since his arrival at New York, and behaved himself in a very extravagant manner. He had gamed too and lost his money, so that I was obliged to discharge his lodgings, and defray his expenses on the road, and at Philadelphia; which proved a great burden to me.
The then governor of New York, Burnet, (son of Bishop Burnet,) hearing from the captain that one of the passengers had a great many books on board, desired him to bring me to see him. I waited on him, and should have taken Collins with me, had he been sober. The governor received me with great civility, showed me his library, which was a considerable one, and we had a good deal of conversation relative to books and authors. This was the second governor who had done me the honor to take notice of me; and for a poor boy, like me, it was very pleasing.
We proceeded to Philadelphia. I received in the way Vernon's money, without which we could hardly have finished our journey. Collins wished to be employed in some counting-house; but, whether they discovered his dram-drinking by his breath, or by his behaviour, though he had some recommendations, he met with no success in any application, and continued lodging and boarding at the same house with me, and at my expense. Knowing I had that money of Vernon's, he was continually borrowing of me, still promising repayment, as soon as he should be in business. At length he had got so much of it, that I was distressed to think what I should do, in case of being called on to remit it.
His drinking continued, about which we sometimes