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that he had no thoughts of ever returning to Philadelphia. He was totally without money ; the little he had been able to raise having barely sufficed for his passage. I had still fifteen pistoles remaining; and to me he had from time to time recourse, while he tried to get employment.
At first believing himself possessed of talents for the stage he thought of turning actor; but Wilkes, to whom he applied, frankly advised him to renounce the idea, as it was impossible to succeed. He next proposed to Roberts, a bookseller in Paternoster-Row, to write a weekly paper in the manner of the spectator, upon terms, to which Roberts would not listen. Lastly he endeavoured to procure employment as a copyist, and applied to the lawyers and stationers about the Temple; but he could find no vacancy.
As to myself I immediately got engaged at Palmer's, at that time a noted, printer in Bartholomew Close, with whom I continued nearly a year. I applied very assiduously to my work ; but I expended with Ralph almost all that I earned. Plays and other places of amusement which we frequented together, having exhausted my pistoles, we lived after this from hand to mouth. He appeared to have entirely forgotten his wife and child, as I also by degrees forgot my engagements with Miss Read, to whom I never wrote more than one letter, and that merely to inform her that I was not likely to return soon. This was another grand error of my life, which I should be desirous of correcting where I to begin my career again.
I was employed at Palmer's on the second edition of Woolaston's Religion of Nature. Some of his arguments appearing to me not to be well founded, I wrote a small metaphysical treatise, in which I animadverted on those passages. It was entitled a Dissertation on Liberty and necessity, Pleasure and Pain. I dedicated it to my friend Ralph, and printed a small number of copies. Palmer upon this treated me with more consideration, and regarded me as a young man of talents;
though he seriously took me to task for the principles of my pamphlet, which he looked upon as abominable. The printing of this book was another error of my life.
While I lodged in Little Britain I formed acquaintance with a bookseller of the name of Wilcox, whose shop was next door to me. Circulating libraries were not then in use. He had an immense collection of books of all shorts. We agreed that, for a reasonable retribution, of which I have now forgotten the price, I should have free access to his library, and take what books I pleased, which I was to return when I had read them. I considered this agreement as a very great advantage; and I derived from it as much benefit as was in my power.
My pamphlet falling into the hand of a surgeon, of the name of Lyons, author, of a book entitled Infallibility of Human Judgment, was the occasion of a considerable intimacy between us. He expressed great esteem for me, came frequently to see me, in order to converse upon metaphysical subjects, and introduced me to Dr. Mandeville, author of the Fable of Bees, who had instituted a club at a tavern in Cheapside, of which he was the soul: he was a facetious and very amusing character. He also introduced me, at Baston's coffee-house, to Dr. Pemberton who promised to give me an opportunity of seeing Sir Isaac Newton, which I very ardently desired; but he never kept his word.
I had brought some curiosities with me from Ame-. rica; the principal of which was a purse' made of asbestos, which fire only purifies. Sir Hans Sloane hearing of it, called upon me, and invited me to his house in Bloomsbury square, where, after showing me every thing that was curious, he prevailed on me to add this piece to his collection; for which he paid me very handsomely.
There lodged in the same house with us a young woman, a milliner, who had a shop by the side of the exchange. Lively and sensible, and having received
an education somewhat above her rank, her conversation was very agreeable. Ralph read plays to her every evening. They became intimate. She took another lodging, and he followed her. They lived for some time together; but Ralph being without employment, she having a child, and the profits of her business not sufficing for the maintenance of three, he resolved to quit London and try a country school. This was a plan in which he thought himself likely to succeed, as he wrote a fine hand and was versed in arithmetic and accounts. But considering the office as beneath him, and expecting some day to make a better figure in the world, when he should be ashamed of its being known that he had exercised a profession so little honourable, he changed his name and did me the honour of assuming mine. He wrote to me soon after his departure, informing me that he was settled at a small village in Berkshire. In his letter he recommended Mrs. T***, the milliner, to my care, and requested an answer, directed to Mr. Franklin, schoolmaster at N***.
He continued to write to me frequently, sending me large fragments of an epic poem he was composing, and which he requested me to criticise and correct. I did 80, but not without endeavouring to prevail on him to renounce this pursuit. Young had just published one of his Satires. I copied and sent him a great part of it; in which the author demonstrates the folly of cultivating the Muses, from the hope, by their instrumentality, of rising in the world. It was all to no purpose; paper after paper of his poem continued to arrive every post.
Meanwhile Mrs. T*** having lost, on his account, both her friends and her business, was frequently in distress. In this dilemma she had recourse to me; and to extricate her from her difficulties, I lent her all the money I couid spare. I felt a little too much fondness for her. Having at that time no ties of religion, and taking advantage of her necessitous situation, I attempted liberties (another error of my life) which she
repelled with becoming indignation. She informed Ralph of my conduct; and the affair occasioned a breach between us. When he returned to London, he gave me to understand that he considered all the obligations he owed me as annihilated by this proceeding; whence I concluded that I was never to expect the payment of what money I had lent him, or advanced on his account. I was the less afflicted at this, as he was unable to pay me; and as, by losing his friendship, I was relieved at the same time from a very heavy burden. I now began to think of laying by some money,
The printing house of Watt's near Lincoln's Inn Fields, being a still more considerable one than that in which I worked, it was probable I might find it more advantageous to be employed there. I offered myself, and was accepted; and in this house I continued during the remainder of my stay in London.
On my entrance I worked at first as a pressman, conceiving that I had need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America, where the printers work alternately as compositors and at the press. I. drank nothing but water. The other workmen, to the number of about fifty, were great 'drinkers of beer. I carried occasionally a large form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see, by this and many other examples, that the American Aquatic, as they used to call me, was stronger than those who drank porter. The beer boy had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house alone. My fellow-pressmen drank every day a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again at about six o'clock in the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work. This custom appeared to me abominable ; but he had need, he said, of ; all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.
I endeavoured to convince him that bodily strength furnished by the beer, could only be in proportion to
the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was larger portion of flour in a penny loạf, and that consequently if he eat this loaf, and drank a pint of water with it, he would derive 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 beverage; 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.
At the end of a few weeks, Watts having occasion 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 consequently looked upon as excommunicated; and whenever I was absent, no little trick that malice could suggest was left unpractised upon me. letters mixed, my pages transposed, my matter broken, &c. &c. all which was attributed to the spirit that haunted the chapel,* and tormented those who were not regularly admitted. 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 destined to live.
After this I lived in the utmost harmony with my fellow-labourers, and soon acquired considerable influence among them. I proposed some alterations in the laws of the chapel, which I carried without opposition. My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and
I found my
Printing offices in general are thus denominated by the work. men; the spirit they call by the name of Ralph.