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proportion to the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was a larger portion of flour in a pen. ny loaf, and that consequently, if he ate this loaf and drank a pint of water with it, he would de.. rive more strength from it than from a pint of beer. This reasoning, however, did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Saturday night a score of four or five shillings a week for this cursed beve erage; an expense from which I was wholly exempt. Thus do these 'poor devils continue all their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty.
Ai the end of a few weeks, Watts, having oc.. casion for me above stairs as a compositor, I quitted the press. The compositors demanded of me garnish-money afresh. This I considered as an imposition, having already paid below. The master was of the same opinion, and desired me not to comply. I thus remained two or three weeks out of the fraternity. I was consequent. ly looked upon as excommunicated; and whenever I was absent, no little trick that malice could suggest was left unpractised upon me. I found my letters mixed, my pages transposed, my matter broken, &c. &c. all which was attributed to the spirit that haunted the chapel,* and tormented those that were not regularly admit. ted. I was at last obliged to submit to pay, notwithstanding the protection of the master; convinced of. the folly of not keeping up a good understanding with those among whom we are des. tined to live.
After this I lived in the utmost harmony with
* Printing-houses in general are thus denominated by ile workmen: the spirit they call by the name of Ralph
my fellow laborers, and soon acquired considerable influence among them. I proposed some al. teration in the laws of the chapel, wbich I carried without opposition. My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they procured, like me, from a neighboring house, a good basin of warm gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and nutmeg. This was a much better breakfast, which did not cost more than a pint of beer, namely, three-halfpence, and at the same time preserved the head clearer. Those who continuted to gorge themselves with beer, often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting to pay their score. They had then recourse, to me, to become security for them; their light, as they used to call it, being out. I attended at the pay-table every Saturday evening, to take up the little sum which I had made myself answerable for, and which sometimes amounted to nearly thirty shillings a week.
This circumstance added to my reputation of being a tolerable good gabber, or, in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept up my importance in the chapel. I had besides recommended myself to the esteem of my master by my assiduous application to business, never observing Saint Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is commonly best paid; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant manner.
My lodging in Little Britain being too far from the printing-house, I took another in Duke Street, opposite the Roman Catholic chapel. It was at the back of an Italian warehouse. The house was kept by a widow, who had a daughter,
à servant, and a shop-boy; but the latter slept out of the house. After sending to the people with whom I lodged in Little Britain, to inquire into my character, she agreed to take me in at. the same price, three and sixpence a week; contenting herself, she said, with so little, because of the security she should derive, as they were all women,
from having a man lodger in the honse.
She was a woman rather advanced in life, the daughter of a clergyman. She had been educated a Protestant; but her husband, whose memory she highly revered, had converted her to the Catholic religion. She had lived in babits of intimacy with persons of distinction; of whom she knew various anecdotes as far back as the time of Charles II. Being subject to fits of the gout, which often confined her to her room, she was sometimes disposed to see company. Hers was so amusing to me, that I was glad to pass the evening with her as often as she desired it. Our supper consisted only of half an anchovy a-piece, upon a slice of bread and butter, with half a pint of ale between lis. But the entertainment was in her conversation.
The early hours I kept, and the little trouble 1 occasioved in the family, made her loath to part with me; and when I mentioned another lodging I had found, nearer the printing-house, at two shillings a week, which fell in with my plan of saving, she persuaded me to give it up, making herself an abatement of two shillings: and thus I continued to lodge with her, during the remainder of my abode in London, at eighteen-pence a week.
In a garret of the house there lived, in a most retired manner, a lady seventy years of age, of whom I received the following account from my
landlady. She was a Roman Catholic. In her early years she had been sent to the continent, and entered a convent with the design of becoming a nan; but the climate not agreeing with ber constitution, she was obliged to return to England, where, as there were no monasteries, she made a vow to lead a monastic life, in as rigid a manner as circumstances would permit. She accordingly disposed of all her property to be applied to charitable uses, reserving to her. self only twelve pounds a year: and of this small pittance she gave a part to the poor, living on water gruel, and never making use of fire but to boil it. She had lived in this garret a great many years, without paying rent to the succes. sive Catholic inhabitants that had kept the house; who indeed considered her abode with them as a blessing. A priest came every day to confess her. “I have asked her,” said my landlady, “how, living as she did, she could find so much employment for a confessor? To which she answered, that it was impossible to avoid vain thoughts.
I was once permitted to visit her. She was cheerful and polite, and her conversation agree able. Her apartment was neat; but the whole furniture consisted of a mattrass, a table, on which was a crucifix, and a book, a chair, which she gave me to sit on, and over the mantel-piece a picture of St. Veronica displaying her handkerchief, on which was seen the miraculous impression of the face of Christ, which she explain ed to me with great gravity. Her countenance was pale, but she bad never experienced sickness; and I may adduce her as another proof how little is sufficient to maintain life and health.
At the printing-house I contracted an intima
cy with a sensible young man of the name of Wygate, who, as his parents were in good circumstances, had received a better education than is common among printers. He was a tolerable Latin scholar, spoke French fluently, and was fond of reading. I taught him, as well as a friend of his, to swim, by taking them twice only into the river; after which they stood in need of no farther assistance. We one day made a party to go by water to Chelsea, in order to see the College, and Don Soltero's curiosities. On our return, at the request of the company, whose curiosity Wegate had excited, I undressed myself, and leaped into the river. I swam from near Chelsea the whole way to Black-friars Bridge, exhibiting, during my course, a variety of feats of activity and address, both upon the surface of the water, as well as under it. This sight occasioned much astonishment and pleasure to those to whom it was new. In my youth 1 took great delight in this exercise. I knew, and could execute, all the evolutions and positions of Thevenot; and I added to them some of my own invention, in which I endeavored to unite gracefulness and utility. I took a pleasare in displaying them all on this occasion, and was highly flattered with the admiration they excited.
Wygate, besides his being desirous of perfecting himself in this art, was the more attached to me from there being, in other respects, a con formity in our tastes and studies. He at length proposed to me to make the tour of Europe with him, maintaining ourselves at the same time by 'working at our profession. I was on the point of consenting, when I mentioned it to my friend, Mr. Denham, with whom I was glad to pass an hour whenever I had leisure. He dissuaded me from the project, and advised me to think of rem.