« ZurückWeiter »
When we arrived at New York, they informed me where they lodged, and invited me to come and see them. I did not however go, and it was well I did not; for the next day, the captain, missing a silver spoon and some other things which had been taken from the cabin, and knowing these women to be prostitutes, pro. cured a search-warrant, found the stolen goods upon them, and had them punished. And thus, after having been saved from one rock concealed under water, upon which the vessel struck during our passage, escaped another of a still more dangerous nature.
At New York, I found my friend Collins, who had arrived soine time before. We had been intimate from our infancy, and had read the same books together; but he had the advantage of being able to de. vote more time to reading and study, and an astonishing disposition for mathematics, in which he left me far behind him When at Boston, I had been accus. tomed to pass with hiin almost all my leisu re hours. He was then a sober and industrious lad, his knowledge bad gained him a very general esteem, and he seemed to promise to make an advantageous figure in society. But, during my absence, he had unfortunately addicted himself to brandy, and I learned, as well from himself as from the report of others, that every day since his arrival at New-York, he had been intoxicated, and had acted in a very extravagant
He had also played and lost all his money : so that I was obliged to pay his expenses at the inn, and to maintain him during the rest of his journey ; & burthen that was very inconvenient to me.
The Governor of New-York, whose name was Ber. het, hearing the Captain say, that a young man, who was a passenger in his ship, had a great number of books, begged him to bring me to his house. I accordingly went, and should have taken Collins with me, had he been sober. The Governor treated me with great civility, showed me his library, which was a very considerable one, and we talked for some time upon books and authors. This was the second gov. ernor who had honoured me with his attention ; and to a poor boy, as I was then, these little adventures did not fail to be pleasing.
We arrived at Philadelphia. On the way I receive ed Vernon's money, without which we should have been unable to have finished our journey.
Collins wished to get employment as a merchant's clerk; but either his breath or his countenance betrayed his bad habit'; for though he had recommenda sions, he met with no success, and continued to lodge and eat with me, and at my expense. Knowing that I had Vernon's money, he was continually asking me to lend him some of it: promising to repay me as soon as he should get employment. At last he had drawn so much of this money, that I was extremely alarmed at what might become of me, should he fall to make good the deficiency. His habit of drinking did not at all diminish, and was a frequent source of discord between us; for when he had drank a little too much, he was very headstrong.
Being one day in a boat together on the Delaware, with some other young persons, he refused to take his turn in rowing. " You shall row for me," said he,“ till we get home."-"No," I replied, “we ill not row for you.”—“You shall," said he, “or remain upon the water all night.”.
." _“As you please Let us row, said the rest of the company; what signifies whether he assists or not. But, already angry with him for his conduct in other respects, 1 persisted in my refusal. He then swore that he would make me row, or would throw me out of the boat : and he made up to me. As soon as he was within my reach, I took him by the collar, gave him a violent thrust, und threw him head foremost into the river. I knew that he was a good swimmer, and was therefore under no apprehensions for his life. Before he could turn himself, we were able, by a few strokes of our oars, to place ourselves out of his reach; and, whenever he touched the hoat, we asked him if he would row, striking his hands at the same time with the oars to make him let go his hold. He was nearly suffocated with rage, but obstinately refused making any promise to row. Perceiv. ing, at length, that his strength began to be exhausted, we took him into the boat, and conveyed him home, in the evening, completely drenched. The utmost coldness subsisted between us after this adventure,
At last the captain of a West-India ship, who was commissioned to procure a tutor for the children of a gentleman at Barbadoes, meeting with Collins, offer ed him the place. He accepted it, and took his leave of me, promising to discharge the debt he owed me with the first money he should receive; but I have heard nothing of him since.
The violation of the trust reposed in me by Vernon, was one of the first great errors of my life; and it proves my father was not mistaken when he supposed ine too young to be entrusted with the management of important affairs. But Sir William, upon reading his letter, thought him too prudent. There was a dif. ference, he said, between individuals ; years of matu. rity were not always accompanied with discretion, neither was youth in every instance devoid of it. “Since your father," added he, will not set you up in business, I will do it myself. Make out a list of what will be wanted from England, and I will send for the articles. You shall repay me when you car. I am determined to have a good printer here, and I am sure you will succeed." This was said with so much seeming cordiality, that I suspected not for an justant the sincerity of the offer. I had hitherto kept the project, with which Sir William had inspired me, of settling in business, a secret in Philadelphia, and I still continued to do so. Had my reliance on the go. vernor been known, some friend, better acquainted with his character than myself. would doubtless have advised me not to trust him; for I afterwards learn. ed that he was universally known to be liberal of promises, when he had no intention to perform. But having never solicited him, how could I suppose bis offers to be deceitful? On the contrary, I believed him to be the best man in the world,
I gave bim the inventory of a small printing-office; the expense of which I had calculated at about a hun. dred pounds sterling. He expressed his approbation; but asked, if my presence in England, thnt I might choose the characters myself, and see that every article was good in its kind would not be an advantage ? 6. You will also be able,” said be,“ to form some ac. guaintance there, and establish a correspondence with
=Ubone agony at the thoughts of Vernon, who fortunately
slationers and booksellers." This I acknowledged was desirable.
“ That being the case added he, "bold yourself in readiness to go with the Annis." This was the annual vessel, and the only one, at that time, which made regular voyages between the ports of London and Philadelphia. But the Annis was not to sail for some months. I therefore continued to work with Keimer, unhappy respecting the sum which Collins had drawn from me, and almost in continual
made no demand of his money till several years after.
In the account of my first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia, 1 omitted, I believe, a trifling circum. stance, which will not, perhaps, be out of place here. During a calm, which stopped us above Block Island, the crew employed themselves in fishing for cod, of which they caught a great number. I had hitherto adhered to my resolution of not eating any thing that had possessed life; and I considered, on this occasion, agreeably to the maxims of my master 'Tyron, the
every fish as a sort of murder, committed without provocation, since these animals had peither done, nor were capable of doing, the smallest injury to any one that should justify the measure. T'his mode of reasoning I conceived to be unanswerable. Meanwhile, I had formerly been extremely fond of fish; and, when one of these cods was taken out of the frying-pan. I thought its flavour delicious. These itated some time between principle and inclination, till at last recollecting, that when the cod had been opened some small fish were found in its belly. I said to myself, if you eat one another, I see no reason why we may not eat you. I accordingly dined on the cod with no small degree of pleasure, and have since continued to eat like the rest of mankind, returning only occasionally to my vegetable plan. How convenient does it prove to be a rutional animal, that knows how to find or invent a plausible pretext for whatever it has an inclination to do.
I continued to live upon good terins with Keimer, who had not the smallest suspicion of my projected establishment. He still retained a portion of his forme er enthusiasm; and, being fond of argument, we from
Quently disputed together. I was so much in the habit of using my Socratic method, and so frequently puz. Zled him by my questions, which appeared at tirst very distant from the point in debate, yet nevertheless led to it by degrees, involving him in difficulties and contradictions from which he was unable to extricate himself, that he became at last ridiculously, cautious, and would scarcely answer the most plain and fa. miliar question without previously asking me- What would you infer from that? Hence he formed so high an opinion of my talents for refutation, íhat he seriqusly proposed to me to become his colleague in the establishment of a new religious sect.
He was to pro. pagate the doctrine by preaching, and I to refute every opponent.'
When he explained to me his tenets, I found many absurdities which I refused to admit, unless he would agree in turn to adopt some of my opinions. Keimer Tore his beard long, because Moses had somewhere said, “Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard." He likewise observed the Sabbath; and these were with him two very essential points. I disliked them both; but I consented to adopt them, provided he would agree to abstain from animal food. “I doubt," said he,“ whether my constitution will be able to support it." I assured him on the contrary, that he would find himself the better for it. He was naturally a glutton, and I wished to amuse myself by starving him. He consented to make trial of this regimen if I would bear bim company; and, in reality, we continued it for three months. A woman in the neighbourhood prepared and brought us our victuals, to whom I gave a list of forty dishes, in the composition of which there artered neither flesh nor fish. This fancy was the inore agreeable to me, as it turned to good account; for the whole expense of our living did not exceed for each, eighteen-pence a week.
I have since that period observed several Jents with the greatest strictness, and have suddenly returned again to my ordinary diet. without experiencing the smallest inconvenience, which has led me to regard as of no importance the advice commonly given, of introducing gradually sach alterations of regimen.