ePub 版

I had been absent seven complete months, and my relations during that interval, had received no intelligence of me; for my brother-in-law, Holmes, was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My unexpected appearance surprised the family; but they were all delighted at seeing me again, and, except my brother, welcomed me home. I went to him at the printing-office. I was better dressed than I had ever been while in his service: I had a complete suit of clothes, new and neat, a watch in my pocket, and my purse was furnished with nearly five pounds sterling in money. He gave me no very civil reception, and having eyed me from head to foot, resumed his work.

The workmen asked me with eagerness where I had been, what sort of a country it was, and how I liked it. I spoke in the highest terms of Philadelphia, the happy life we led there, and expressed my intention of going back again. One of them asking what sort of money we had, I displayed before them a handful of silver, which I drew from my pocket. This was a curiosity to which they were not accustomed, paper being the current money at Boston. I failed not after this to let them see my watch ; and at last, my bror ther continuing sullen and out of humour, I gave them a shilling to drink, and took my leave. This visit stung my brother to the soul; for when, shortly after my mother spoke to him of a reconciliation, and a desire of seeing us upon good terms, he told her that I had so insulted him before his men, that he would never forget or forgive it; in this, however, he was mistaken.

The governor's letter appeared to excite in my fzther some surprise ;. but he said little. After some days, capt. Holmes being returned, he shewed it to him, asking him if he knew Keith, and what sort of a man he was : adding, that in his opinion, it proved very little discernment to think of sitting up a boy in business, who for three years to come would not be of an age to be ranked in the class of men. Holmes said every thing he could in favour of the scheme; but my father firmly maintained its absurdity, and at last gave a positive refusal. He wrote, however a civil letter to Sir William, thanking him for the protection he had so obligingly offered me, but refusing to assist me for the present, because he thought me too young to be entrusted with the conduct of so important an enterprise, and which would require so considerable a sum of


My old comrade Collins, who was a clerk in the post-office, charmed with the account I

gave of

my new residence, expressed a desire of going thither; and while I waited my father's determination, he set off before me, by land, for Rhode Island, leaving his books, which formed a handsome collection in mathematics and natural philosophy, to be conveyed with mine to New York, where he purposed to wait for


My father, though he could not approve Sir Wili. am's proposal, was yet pleased that I had obtained' so advantageous a recommendation as that of a person of his rank, and that my industry and economy had enabled me to equip myself so handsomely in so short a period. Seeing no appearance of accommodating matters between my brother and me, he consented to my return to Philadelphia, advised me to be civil to every body, to endeavour to obtain general esteem, and avoid satire and sarcasm, to which he thought I was too much inclined ; adding, that, with perseverance and prudent economy, I might by the time I became of age, save enough to establish myself in business; and that if a small sum should then be wanting, he would undertake to supply it.

This was all I could obtain from him, except some trifling presents, in token of friendship from him and

I embarked once more for New York, furnished at this time with their approbation and blessing. The sloop having touched at Newport in Rhode. Island, I paid a visit to my brother John, who had for some years been settled there, and was married. He had always been attached to me, and received me with great affection. · One of his friends, whose name 'was Vernon, having a debt of about thirty six pounds due to him in Pennsylvania, begged me to receive it for him, and keep the money till I should hear from him : accordingly he gave me

my mother

an order for that purpose. This affair occasioned me, in the sequel, much uneasi.


At Newport we took on board a number of passengers; among whom were two young women, and a grave and sensible quaker lady with her servants. 1 had shown an obliging forwardness in rendering the quaker some trifling services, which led her probably, to feel some interest in my welfare ; for when she saw a familiarity take place, and every day increase, between the two young women and me, she took me aside and said, “ Young man I am in pain for thee. Thou hast no parent to watch over thy conduct, and thou seemest to be ignorant of the world, and the snares to which youth is exposed. Rely upon what I tell thee: those are women of bad characters; I perceive it in all their actions. If thou dost not take care, they will lead thee into danger. They are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, by the friendly interest I take in thy preservation, to form no connection with them." As I appeared at first not to think quite so ill of them as she did, she related many things she had seen and heard, which had escaped my attention, but which convinced me she was in the right. I thanked her for her obliging advice, and promised to follow it.

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, procured 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, I escaped another of a still more dangerous nature.

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived some time before. We had been intimate from our infancy, and had read the same books together; and he had the advantage of being able to devote 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 accustomed to pass with him almost all my leisure hours. He was then a sober and industrious lad ; his knowledge had 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 manner. 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 the journey; a burden that was very inconvenient to


The governor of New York, whose name was Burnet, 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 governor who had honoured me with his attention; and to a poor boy, as I then was, these little adventures did not fail to be pleasing

We arrived at Philadelphia. On the way I received 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 recommendations,


he met with no success, and continued to lodge and eat with me, 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 fail 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 head


[ocr errors]


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 will not row for

"L" 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, I 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, and 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 boat, we asked him if he would row, striking his hands with the oars to make him let go his hold. He was nearly suffocated with rage, but obstinately refused making any promise to row. Perceiving 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 a captain of a West India ship, who was commissioned to procure a tutor for the children of a gentleman at Barbadoes, meeting with Collins, offered him the place. He accepted it, and took

« 上一頁繼續 »