網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

At Newport we tok on board a number of pas. sengers ; among whom were two young women, and à grave and sensible quaker lady with her servants. I 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 in. crease, between the 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 preserva, tion, 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 soine other things which had been taken from the cabin, and knowing these women to be prostitutes, procured a search warrant, found the štolen goods upon them, and had them punished. And thus, after having been saved from one rock concealed inder water, upon which the vessel struck during our passage, I escaped another of a more dangerous nature.

At New-York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived some time before. We had been intia

mate from our infancy, and had read the same books together; but he had the advantage of being able to devote more of his 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 industri. ous lad; his knowledge had gained him a very general ésteem, and he seemed to promise to make an advantageous figure in society. But, during my absence, he had unfortonately addicted himself to brandy, and I learned, as well from himself as from the reports 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 expences at the inn, and to maintain him during the rest of the journey ; a burthen that was very inconvenient to me.

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, shewed 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 honored me with his ata tention, and to a poor boy, as I then was, these lite tle adventures did not fail to be pleasing

We arrived at Philadelphia. On the way I re. ceived Vernon's money, without which we should have been unable to have finished our journey.

Collins wished to get emplo;ment as a merchant's clerk; but either his breath or his countenance be. trayed his bad habit; for, though he had recoma

mendations, 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 con. tinually asking me to lend him some of it; promis. ing 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 be. come of me, should he fail to make good the defi. ciency. His habit of drinking did not at all dimine ish, 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 Dela. ware, 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 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 it whether he assists or not. But, already angry with him for his conduct in other respects, I persisted in my refusal. He then swore 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 mak. ing any promise to row. Perceiving at length that his strength began to be exhausted, we took him in, to 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 commission ed to procure a tutor for the children of a gentleman at Barbadoes, meeting with Collins, offered 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 Ver. non, was one of the first great errors of my life, and it proves that my father was not mistaken when he supposed me too young to be intrusted with the management of important affairs. But Sir William, upon reading his letter, thought him too prudent. There was a difference, he said, between individu. als ; years of maturity 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 can. 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 instant the sincerity of the offer. I had hitherto kept the project, with which Sir Wila liam had inspired me, a secret at Philadelphia, and still continued to do so. Had my reliance on the governor been known, some friend, better acquainted with his character than myself, would doubtless have advised me not to trust him ; for I afterwards

learned that he was universally known to be liberal - of promises, which he had no intention to perform. · But having never solicited him, how could I sup, pose his offers to be deceitful ? On the contrary, I believed him to be the best man in the world.

I gave him an inventory of a small printing office ; the expence of which I had calculated at about a hundred pounds sierling. He expressed his ap. probation ; but asked if my presence in England, that I'might choose the characters myself, and see that every article was good in its kind, would not be an advantage. You will also be able, said he, to form an acquaintance there, and establish a correspondence with stationers and booksellers. This I acknowledged was desirable. That being the case, added he, hold yourself in readiness to go with the Annis. This was the annual vessel, and the only one, at that time, which made regular voyages be. tween the ports of London and Philadelphia. But the Annis was not to sail for some months. I there. fore continued to work for Keimer, unhappy res. pecting the sum which Collins had drawn from me, and almost in a continued agony at the thoughts of Vernon, who fortunately made no demand of his money till several years after,

In the aucount of my first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia, I omiited I believe a trifling cir. cumstance, which will not perhaps be out of place here. During a calm which stopped us above Block-island, the crew empioyed 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 possessed life ; and I considered on this occasion, agreeably to the maxims of my master Tryon, the capture of every fish as a sort of murder, committed without provocation, since these aniinals had neither done, nor were capable of doing, the smallest injury to any one that should justify the measure. This mode of reasoning I conceived to be unanswerable. Meanwhile I had for. merly been extremely fond of fish ; and when one of these.cod. was taken out of the frying-pan I

« 上一頁繼續 »