HotFreeBooks.com
The Printer Boy. - Or How Benjamin Franklin Made His Mark. An Example for Youth.
by William M. Thayer
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

CHAPTER XV.

THE RUNAWAY.

Not long after James was released from prison, a fresh difficulty arose between Benjamin and himself. In the quarrel they seemed to forget that they were brothers, who ought to be united by strong ties of affection. James continued to be passionate and domineering, treating his brother with harshness, sometimes even beating him, notwithstanding he was the nominal publisher and editor of a paper. Benjamin thought he was too old to be treated thus—whipped like a little boy—and the result was that he asserted his freedom.

"I am my own man from this time," he cried, holding up his indenture which his brother returned to him, as we saw in a former chapter, in order to evade the officers of justice. "These papers make me free, and I shall take advantage of them to leave you," and he fairly shook them in James's face.

"You know that I never gave them up because I relinquished the bargain we had made," said James. "If you use them to assert your freedom, you will be guilty of a base act."

"I shall so use the papers," replied Benjamin defiantly. "I have borne such treatment long enough, and I shall submit no longer."

"We shall see about that," continued James. "Father will have a word to say about it, you will find."

"Yes, and he will probably say that you have abused me, and that you ought to control your temper and treat me better," responded Benjamin. "He always has decided in my favour, and I have no fears about his decision now."

It was not fair in Benjamin to take this advantage of his brother, and he knew it, but his resentment triumphed over his regard for right at the time. James returned his indenture only that he might be able to publish the paper unmolested. It was a deceitful arrangement in the first place, and Benjamin's use of the papers to assert his liberty was no more unfair and sinful than was James's device to make him the proprietor of the paper, and thus evade the law. James was paid in his own coin. He laid a plan to cheat the government, and he got cheated himself. He was snared in the work of his own hands. This, however, did not justify Benjamin in his course, as he afterwards saw, and frankly confessed.

Benjamin persisted in asserting his freedom, and James appealed to his father. After the latter had examined the affair, all the while knowing that James was passionate and overbearing, he decided against Benjamin. The advantage which the latter took of James to gain his freedom probably influenced Mr. Franklin to decide in favour of the former. This was unexpected by Benjamin, and was not received with a very good grace. It did not change his determination, however, and he was still resolved to be free. He refused to labour any more for his brother, and went forth to look for employment elsewhere. There were a number of other printers in the town, to whom he applied for work; but he found, to his surprise, that his brother had anticipated him, and been round to persuade them not to hire him.

"He has violated a solemn contract," said he to one, "and he will violate any contract he will make with you. Besides, if you refuse to hire him, he will be obliged to return and labour for me."

The printers all sympathized with James, and accordingly refused to give Benjamin work. He found himself in a very unpleasant situation on that account, without the means of earning his bread, and, in one sense, without a home, since he had disregarded his father's counsel in not returning to his brother. He learned, also, that some good people considered him no better than an infidel.

"Nothing less than the loosest sceptic," said one good man. "He hates the truth with all his heart, as much that he writes plainly shows. His influence in the community is very bad, and it is growing worse and worse."

Good people thus misjudged Benjamin. Some went so far as to call him an "atheist." His attacks upon the clergy and government, in his paper, created so much excitement, that he was understood to mean worse than he did.

All these things served to wean Benjamin from Boston, and he decided on seeking his fortune elsewhere. He embraced the first opportunity to confer with his old friend, John Collins, on the subject.

"John, I am going to New York," he said.

"To New York?" exclaimed John. "What has started you off there?"

"Enough to start anybody. I have been banged about long enough, and now can get no work at all; so I must go or starve."

"How so?" inquired John, "I don't understand you?"

"The case is just this," said Benjamin. "James has treated me very harshly for a long time, and I have submitted. But I had a good opportunity to make myself free, and I have improved it. When James was put into prison for libel, he returned me my indenture with a discharge written on the back, to show in case the government interfered with my publishing the paper. He did not mean, of course, that I should be released from my obligations to him; but he has treated me so unmercifully lately that I have taken advantage of the paper, and broken my engagement with him."

"You have got round him this time, certainly," said John. "How does he feel about it?"

"He has appealed to father, and father has decided against me, and advised me to go back; but I am not at all disposed to do it."

"I would work in some other printing-office," added John, "before I would go to New York."

"But I can get work nowhere else. I have been to every office, and they all refuse to employ me, because my brother went to them before me, and told his story, and made them promise not to hire me."

"I suppose he thought by so doing to compel you to come back to him," suggested John.

"I suppose so; but he will find himself mistaken. I shall go to New York as soon as I can get away."

"What does your father say about your going off so far?"

"I have said nothing to him about it, and do not intend to do so. He would stop my going at once if he knew it."

"How can you get away without letting him know it?"

"That remains to be seen," answered Benjamin. "I shall want some of your help about it, I guess."

"I am at your service," said John, "though it seems very little that I can do to hasten your flight;" but he had hardly uttered the last sentence before a new thought flashed upon his mind, and he added with great earnestness, "Yes, I can, too; I have seen the captain of that New York sloop in the harbour, and I can make a bargain with him to take you there."

"But he will want to know who I am, and will refuse to take me when he finds that I am a runaway."

"I can manage that, if you will leave it to me," answered John. "I will pledge you that he will never know that your name is Franklin."

"I agree, then, to commit myself to your care. See that you manage the affair well, for to New York I must go."

They parted; and John hurried away to see the aforesaid captain.

"Can you take a friend of mine to New York?" he asked.

"That depends on circumstances," answered the captain. "Who is your friend?"—a very natural inquiry,—precisely such a one as Benjamin thought would be made.

"He is a young man about my age, a printer, and he is going to New York to get work," replied John.

"Why don't he get work in Boston?" inquired the captain.

John saw that there was no evading the captain's questions, and so he suddenly resolved to fabricate a story, in other words, to tell a base lie.

"Well," said John, "if I must tell you the whole story, the case is this. He is a young fellow who has been flirting with a girl, who wants to marry him, and now her parents are determined that he shall marry her, and he is determined that he will not, and he proposes to remove secretly to New York. He would have come to see you himself, but it is not safe for him to appear out so publicly, and therefore he sent me to do the business."

A youth who can fabricate a falsehood so unblushingly as John did this is a candidate for ruin. The reader will not be surprised to learn, before the whole story is told, that he became a miserable, wicked man. This single lie proved that he was destitute of moral principle, and would do almost anything to carry his project.

For some unaccountable reason, the captain was taken with this device, and consented to carry Benjamin to New York. He arranged to receive him clandestinely, and to have him on his way before any suspicion of his plans was awakened.

John hastened to inform Benjamin of the success of his enterprise, and to congratulate him upon his fair prospect of getting away.

"Money is the next thing," said Benjamin. "I can't go without money. I must sell my books for something, though I dislike to part with them."

"They will sell quick enough," said John, "and will bring you a very pretty sum to start with."

Benjamin lost no time in disposing of his little library for what it would bring, and he managed to get his clothes together without exciting suspicion; and, with the assistance of John, he boarded the sloop privately just before she sailed.

"Good luck to you, Ben," said John, as they shook hands.

"Good bye," answered Benjamin with a heavy heart, just beginning to feel that he was going away from home. "See that you tell no tales out of school."

Thus they parted; and the sloop sailed for New York, where she arrived in three days. Benjamin did not know a person in that city, nor had he a single letter of recommendation to any one, and the money in his pocket was but a trifle. It was in October, 1723, that he arrived in New York. Think of a lad seventeen years of age running away from home, entering a large city without a solitary acquaintance, and possessing scarcely money enough to pay for a week's board! He must have carried some sad, lonely feelings in his heart along those strange streets, and possibly his conscience sorely upbraided him for his course.

Benjamin behaved very unwisely and wickedly in this affair. Although his brother was severely harsh in his treatment of him, it was not sufficient reason for his running away from home, and he was thoroughly convinced of this at an early day. Such an act is one of the most flagrant sins that a youth can commit, although circumstances may render it less guilty in some cases than in others. In the case of Benjamin, the unkind treatment which he received at the hand of his brother mitigated his sin, though it by no means excused it.

There is not a more unpleasant occurrence in the whole life of Benjamin Franklin than this quarrel with his brother. We charge the difficulty mainly upon James, of course; but this does not blot out the unpleasantness of the affair. A quarrel between brothers is always painful in the extreme, and is discreditable to all parties concerned. Dr. Watts has very beautifully written, for the admonition of little children, what older ones may well ponder:—

"Whatever brawls disturb the street, There should be peace at home: Where sisters dwell and brothers meet, Quarrels should never come.

"Birds in their little nests agree; And 'tis a shameful sight, When children of one family Fall out, and chide, and fight.

"Hard names, at first, and threat'ning words, That are but noisy breath, May grow to clubs and naked swords, To murder and to death."

At this crisis of Benjamin's life, it seemed as if he was on the highway to ruin. There is scarcely one similar case in ten, where the runaway escapes the vortex of degradation. Benjamin would not have been an exception, but for his early religious culture and the grace of God.

The case of William Hutton, who was the son of very poor parents, is not altogether unlike that of Benjamin Franklin. He was bound to his uncle for a series of years, but was treated by him so harshly that he ran away, at seventeen years of age. The record is, that "on the 12th day of July, 1741, the ill-treatment he received from his uncle, in the shape of a brutal flogging, with a birch-broom handle of white hazel, which almost killed him, caused him to run away." A dark prospect was before him, since "he had only twopence in his pocket, a spacious world before him, and no plan of operation." Yet he afterwards became an author of some celebrity, and a most exemplary and esteemed man. He lived to the age of ninety, his last days being gladdened by the reflection of having lived a useful life, and the consciousness of sharing the confidence of his fellow-men.



CHAPTER XVI.

ANOTHER TRIP AND ITS TRIALS.

On arriving at New York, Benjamin applied to a well known printer, Mr. William Bradford, for work.

"Where are you from?" he inquired.

"From Boston," was Benjamin's reply.

"Used to the printing business?"

"Yes, that is my trade. I have worked at it several years."

"I am sorry I cannot employ you. Just now my business is small, and I have all the help I need."

"What do you think of the prospect of getting work at some other office in the town?" inquired Benjamin.

"Not very flattering, I am sorry to say. Dull times, my son, very dull indeed. But I can tell you where you can find employment, I think. My son carries on the printing business in Philadelphia, and one of his men died the other day. I think he would be glad to employ you."

"How far is it to Philadelphia?"

"It is a hundred miles," replied Mr. Bradford, "a much shorter distance than you have already travelled."



Benjamin looked somewhat disappointed when he found that Philadelphia was a hundred miles farther; still, he was after work, and he was determined to find it; so he made inquiries about the mode of conveyance, and left Mr. Bradford, thanking him for his kindness. Immediately he engaged a passage in a boat to Amboy, and made arrangements for his chest to be carried round by sea. He was less disheartened, probably, on account of the assurance of Mr. Bradford that his son would employ him. If he could procure work by travelling a hundred miles more, he would cheerfully do it, although a journey of a hundred miles then was about equal to one thousand now.

At the appointed time Benjamin went aboard, and the boat started. She had not proceeded far when a squall struck her, tore her rotten sails to pieces, and drove her upon Long Island. Before this, however, a drunken Dutchman, who was also a passenger, fell overboard, and would have lost his life but for the timely assistance of our printer-boy. Springing to the side of the boat, Benjamin reached over and seized him by the hair of his head as he rose, and drew him on board.

"He may thank you for saving his life," exclaimed one of the boatmen.

"He is too drunk for that," answered Benjamin. "It will sober him a little, however, I think. Halloo, here, you Dutchman!" (turning to the drunken man) "how do you like diving?"

The Dutchman mumbled over something, and pulling a book out of his pocket, asked Benjamin to dry it for him, which he promised to do. Soon the poor, miserable fellow was fast asleep, in spite of the wet and danger, and Benjamin examined the drenched volume, which proved to be Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, a favourite book of his a few years before. It was a very good companion for even a drunken Dutchman to have; but Benjamin could not but think that its contents were not so familiar to the unfortunate possessor as the bottle.

On approaching Long Island they found that there was no place to land, and the beach was very stony; so "they dropped anchor, and swung out their cable towards the shore." Some men came down to the shore and hallooed to them, and they returned the shout. Seeing some small boats lying along the shore, they cried out as loudly as possible, "A boat! a boat!" and made signs to them to come to their assistance; but the wind was so boisterous that neither party could understand the other.

After several fruitless attempts on both sides to be heard, and night coming on, the men on the shore went home, and left Benjamin and the boatmen to their perils.

"There is only one thing to be done," said the captain, "when we get into such a predicament."

"What is that?" asked Benjamin.

"To do nothing but wait patiently till the wind abates," answered the captain, rather coolly.

"Then let us turn in with the Dutchman to sleep," said one of the boatmen. "It isn't best for him to have all the good things."

All agreed to this, and soon they were crowded into the hatches, Benjamin among the number. But the spray broke over the head of the boat so much that the water leaked through upon them, until they were about as wet as the Dutchman. This was hard fare for Benjamin, who had been accustomed to a comfortable bed and regular sleep. It was impossible for him to rest in such a plight, and he had all the more time to think. He thought of home, and the friends he had left behind, of the comfortable quarters he had exchanged for his present wet and perilous berth, and he began to feel that he had paid too dear for his whistle. Runaways usually feel thus sooner or later, since few of them ever realize their anticipations.

The cold, dreary night wore away slowly, and the wind continued to howl, and the breakers to dash and roar, until after the dawn of the following morning. Benjamin was never more rejoiced to see daylight appear than he was after that dismal and perilous night. It was the more pleasant to him because the wind began to abate, and there was a fairer prospect of reaching their place of destination. As soon as the tumult of the wind and waves had subsided, they weighed anchor, and steered for Amboy, where they arrived just before night, "having been thirty hours on the water without victuals, or any drink but a bottle of filthy rum."

In the evening Benjamin found himself feverish, having taken a severe cold by the exposure of the previous night. With a hot head and a heavy heart he retired to rest, first, however, drinking largely of cold water, because he had somewhere read that cold water was good for fever. This was one of the advantages he derived from his early habit of reading. But for his taste for reading, which led him to spend his leisure moments in poring over books, he might never have known this important fact, which perhaps saved him a fit of sickness. Availing himself of this knowledge, he drank freely of water before he retired, and the consequence was, that he sweat most of the night, and arose the next morning comparatively well. So much advantage from loving books!

Boys never have occasion to deplore the habit of reading, provided their books are well chosen. They usually find that they are thrice paid for all the time spent in this way. Sooner or later they begin to reap the benefits of so wise a course. A few years since, a young man was travelling in the State of Maine, procuring subscribers to a newspaper. On passing a certain farm, he observed some bricks of a peculiar colour, and he traced them to their clay-bed, and satisfied himself that the material could be applied to a more valuable purpose than that of making bricks. He at once purchased the farm for three hundred pounds, and, on his return to Boston, sold one half of it for eight hundred pounds. The secret of his success lay in a bit of knowledge he acquired at school. He had given some attention to geology and chemistry, and the little knowledge he had gleaned therefrom enabled him to discover the nature of the clay on the farm. Thus, even a little knowledge gleaned from a book in a single leisure half-hour, will sometimes prove the key to a valuable treasure; much more valuable than the farm which the young man purchased. For this pecuniary benefit is, after all, the least important advantage derived from reading. The discipline of the mind and heart, and the refined and elevated pleasure which it secures, are far more desirable than any pecuniary good it bestows. A little reading, also, sometimes gives an impulse to the mind in the direction of learning and renown. It was the reading of Echard's Roman History, which Gibbon met with while on a visit to Wiltshire, that opened before him the historic path to distinction.

Let the reader consider these things. Never say, as hundred's of boys do, "I hate books, and wish that I was not obliged to go to school. There is no use in reading and studying so much; we shall get along just as well without it." This class of boys usually will have to regret, under mortifying circumstances, in later life, that they wasted their early opportunities to acquire knowledge. Sir Walter Scott, in his boyhood, joined in the tirade of idlers against books; but in manhood he said: "If it should ever fall to the lot of youth to peruse these pages, let such readers remember that it is with the deepest regret that I recollect, in my manhood, the opportunities of learning which I neglected in my youth; that through every part of my literary career I have felt pinched and hampered by my own ignorance; and I would at this moment give half the reputation I have had the good fortune to acquire, if by so doing I could rest the remaining part upon a sound foundation of learning and science."

But we have lost sight of Benjamin. We left him at the tavern in Amboy, after having passed the night in a cold-water sweat, ready for another start on his journey. Burlington was fifty miles from Amboy, and there was no public conveyance, so that he was obliged to go on foot, expecting to find a boat there bound for Philadelphia. It was raining hard, and yet he started upon the journey, and trudged on through the storm and the mud, eager to see Burlington. He was thoroughly drenched before he had travelled five miles, and, in this condition, he walked on rapidly till noon, when he came to a "poor inn," and stopped. Being wet and tired, he resolved to remain there until the next day. The innkeeper's suspicions were awakened by Benjamin's appearance, and he questioned him rather closely.

"Where are you from, my lad?"

"From Boston, sir."

"Hey! and away off here so far? quite a youngster for such a trip. What's your name?"

"My name is Benjamin Franklin, and I am going to Philadelphia after work."

"No work in Boston I 'spose, hey? How long since you left home?"

"About a week. I did not expect to go farther than New York when I started, but I could get no work there."

"No work, hey? what sort of work are you after that you find it so scarce?"

"I am a printer by trade, and I hope to get into a printing-office in Philadelphia."

"Wall, you are a pretty young one to go so far; I would hardly be willing that a son of mine should make such a trip alone, printer or no printer."

Benjamin saw that he was suspected of being a runaway, and he felt very uncomfortable. He managed, however, to answer all questions without satisfying the curiosity of the family. He ate and slept there, and on the following morning proceeded on his journey, and by night was within eight or ten miles of Burlington. Here he stopped at an inn kept by one Dr. Brown, "an ambulating quack doctor." He was a very social and observing man, and soon discovered that Benjamin was a youth of unusual intelligence for one of his age. He conversed with him freely about Boston and other places, and gave a particular account of some foreign countries which he had visited. In this way he made Benjamin's brief stay with him very pleasant, and they became friends for life, meeting many times thereafter on friendly terms.

The next morning he reluctantly bade the doctor good bye, and proceeded to Burlington, where he expected to find a boat. In the suburbs of the town he bought some gingerbread of an old woman who kept a shop, and walked on, eating it as he went. To his great disappointment, on reaching the wharf, he found the boat had gone, and there would not be another until Tuesday. It was now Saturday, and his money would not hold out if he should get boarded at a public-house till then. What should he do? After some reflection, he determined to go back to the old lady of whom he bought his gingerbread, as he liked her appearance very well, and ask her advice. So back he went.

"Ah! back again?" said she, as he entered her shop. "Want more gingerbread I 'spose?"

"No," answered Benjamin. "I was going to take the boat to Philadelphia, but it has gone, and there is not another to go until Tuesday."

"Dear me!" exclaimed the kind-hearted woman; "if that ain't too bad. What kin ye du?"

"That is what I want to ask you. Is there any other conveyance to Philadelphia?"

"No, and all ye has to du is to make the best on't."

"And what is that? That is just what I want to know,—the best thing for me to do in such a case."

"What ye goin' to Philadelphy for?" inquired the old lady.

"I am going after work. I am a printer, and want to find work in a printing-office."

"A printer," exclaimed the woman, who had probably never seen one before. "Dear me, yer fortin is made to set up business in this ere town. There is nothing of the like here."

"I have nothing to set up the business with here," replied Benjamin. "I would as lief work here as in Philadelphia, if the way was open."

The woman did not know what was necessary in setting up a printing establishment. That types and a press were indispensable articles in such business she did not dream. She thought, doubtless, that he carried all necessary fixtures with him in his pockets.

"Well, then, I'll lodge ye till Tuesday for ——" (naming the sum).

"I will stay with you, then, and make the best of it," he replied.

He found himself in very good quarters, and his host proved herself to be very kind and hospitable. He took dinner with her, and remained about the shop until towards night, when he walked forth to view the place. In his walk he came round to the river, and as he approached it, he discovered a boat with several people in it, and he hailed them.

"Whither bound?"

"To Philadelphia."

"Can you take me in? I was too late for the boat to-day."

"As well as not," a voice replied; and the boat was turned to receive its additional passenger. There was no wind, so that they were obliged to depend on rowing for progress. Benjamin now found a rare opportunity to exercise the skill at rowing which he cultivated in Boston. He was so elated with the prospect of proceeding on his way to Philadelphia, that he thought neither of the fatigue of rowing, nor of the wonder of the old lady in the shop at the unexpected disappearance of her boarder. He did not mean to treat her disrespectfully, for he considered her a very clever woman, but the boat could not wait for him to return and pay her his compliments. Whether she ever learned what became of him, or that he grew up to be Dr. Franklin, the great philosopher, we have no means of knowing. Doubtless she concluded that she had not entertained an "angel unawares," but had rather aided an undeserving fellow in pursuing a vicious course,—which was not true.

The boat went on. Benjamin rowed with strong resolution, taking his turn with others, until midnight, when one of the company said: "We must have passed the city. It can't be that we have been so long getting to it."

"That is impossible," said another. "We must have seen it, if we had passed it."

"Well, I shall row no more," added the first speaker. "I know that Philadelphia is not so far off as this."

"Let us put for the shore," said a third person, "and find out where we are, if possible."

"Agreed," replied several voices; and so saying they rowed toward the shore, and entered a small creek, where they landed near an old fence, the rails of which furnished them with fuel for a fire. They were very chilly, it being a frosty night of October, and they found the fire very grateful. They remained there till daylight, when one of the company knew that the place was "Cooper's Creek," a few miles above the "City of Brotherly Love." Immediately they made preparations to continue their journey, which had not been altogether unpleasant, and they were soon in full view of the city, where they arrived between eight and nine o'clock on Sunday morning. They landed at Market Street Wharf. Taking out his money, which consisted of one unbroken dollar, and a shilling in copper coin, he offered the latter to the boatmen for his passage.

"Not a cent, my good fellow," said one of them, "you worked your passage, and did it well, too."

"But you must take it," responded Benjamin. "You are quite welcome to all the rowing I have done. I am glad enough to get here by rowing and paying my passage too. But for your coming along to take me in, I should have been obliged to stay in Burlington until next Tuesday;" and he fairly forced the shilling into their hands. This manifested a spirit of generosity, for which Benjamin was always distinguished. He was no mean, niggardly fellow, not he. Although he was in a stranger city, and had but a single dollar left on which to live until he could earn something by daily toil, yet he cheerfully gave the change for his passage. He felt grateful to them for taking him in, and he gave expression to his gratitude in this generous way. It was noble, too, in the boatman to refuse to take the shilling. It was only on his insisting upon their receiving it, that they consented to take it. A kind-hearted, generous set of fellows were in that boat, and Benjamin was not inferior to one of them in that respect. Bidding them good morning, he walked up Market Street, where he met a boy eating some bread.

"Where did you get your bread, boy?" he inquired.

"Over to the baker's, there," he replied, pointing to a shop that was near by.

Benjamin was very tired and hungry, having eaten nothing since he dined with the old shopwoman in Burlington, on the day before; and, for this reason, the boy's bread was very tempting. Besides, he had made many a meal of dry bread when he boarded himself in Boston; and now it was not hard at all for him to breakfast on unbuttered bread, minus both tea and coffee. He hastened to the bakery, and found it open.

"Have you biscuit?" he inquired, meaning such as he was accustomed to eat in Boston.

"We make nothing of the kind," answered the proprietor.

"You may give me a three-penny loaf, then."

"We have none."

Benjamin began to think that he should have to go hungry still, since he did not know the names or prices of the kinds of bread made in Philadelphia. But in a moment he recovered himself, and said: "Then give me three-pennyworth of any sort."



To his surprise the baker gave him three great puffy rolls, enough to satisfy half a dozen hungry persons. He looked at it, scarcely knowing at first what he could do with so much, but, as "necessity is the mother of invention," he soon discovered a way of disposing of it. He put a roll under each arm, and taking a third in his hand he proceeded to eat it, as he continued his way up Market Street.

Let the reader stop here, and take a view of Benjamin Franklin, the runaway youth, as he made his first appearance in the city of Philadelphia. See him trudging up Market Street with his worn, dirty clothes (his best suit having been sent round by sea), his pockets stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and a "puffy roll" under each arm, and a third in his hand of which he is eating! A comical appearance certainly! It is not very probable that this runaway Benjamin will ever become "Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of France," or surprise the world by his philosophical discoveries! There is much more probability that he will live in some obscure printing-office, and die, "unknown, unhonoured, and unsung." Who wonders that a young lady, Miss Read, who was standing in the door of her father's residence as Benjamin passed, thought he made a very awkward and ridiculous appearance? She little thought she was taking a bird's-eye view of her future husband, as the youth with the rolls of bread under his arm proved to be. But just then he cared more for bread than he did for her; some years after, the case was reversed, and he cared more for her than he did for bread.

Turning down Chestnut Street he continued to walk until he came round to the wharf where he landed. Being thirsty, he went to the boat for water, where he found the woman and child who came down the river with them on the previous night, waiting to go further.

"Are you hungry?" he inquired of the child, who looked wistfully at his bread.

"We are both very hungry," answered the woman, speaking for herself and child.

"I have satisfied my hunger," said Benjamin, "and you may have the rest of my bread if you would like it," at the same time passing both rolls to her.

"You are very kind indeed," responded the woman. "I thank you much for it;"—all of which was as good pay for the bread as Benjamin wanted. This was another instance of the generosity for which he was distinguished throughout his whole life. An American statesman said of him, in a eulogy delivered in Boston: "No form of personal suffering or social evil escaped his attention, or appealed in vain for such relief or remedy as his prudence could suggest, or his purse supply. From that day of his early youth, when, a wanderer from his home and friends in a strange place, he was seen sharing his rolls with a poor woman and child, to the last act of his public life, when he signed that well known memorial to Congress, a spirit of earnest and practical benevolence runs like a golden thread along his whole career."

He then walked up the street again, and found well-dressed people going to church. Joining in the current, notwithstanding his appearance, he went with them into the large Quaker meeting-house that stood near the market. He took his seat, and waited for the services to begin, either not knowing what Quakers did at meeting, or else being ignorant that he was among this sect. As nothing was said, and he was weary and exhausted with the labours and watchings of the previous night, he became drowsy, and soon dropped into a sweet sleep. His nap might have proved a very unfortunate event for him, but for the kindness of a wide-awake Quaker. For he did not wake up when the meeting closed, and the congregation might have dispersed, and the sexton locked him in, without disturbing his slumbers. But the kind-hearted Quaker moved his spirit by giving him a gentle rap on the shoulder. He started up, somewhat surprised that the service was over, and passed out with the crowd. Soon after, meeting a fine-looking young Quaker, who carried his heart in his face, Benjamin inquired, "Can you tell me where a stranger can get a night's lodging?"

"Here," answered the Quaker, "is a house where they receive strangers" (pointing to the sign of the Three Mariners near which they stood), "but it is not a reputable one; if thee will walk with me I will show thee a better one."

"I will be obliged to you for doing so," answered Benjamin. "I was never in Philadelphia before, and am not acquainted with one person here."

The Quaker conducted him to Water Street, and showed him the Crooked Billet,—a house where he might be accommodated. Benjamin thanked him for his kindness, entered the house, and called for dinner and a room. While sitting at the dinner-table, his host asked, "Where are you from?"

"I am from Boston?"

"Boston!" exclaimed the host, with some surprise. "How long since you left home?"

This question being answered, he continued, "Have you friends in Philadelphia?"

"None at all. I do not know a single person here."

"What did you come here for?"

"I came to get work in a printing-office. I am a printer by trade."

"How old are you?"

"I am seventeen years old, sir," replied Benjamin, just beginning to perceive that the man suspected him of being a runaway.

"And came all the way from Boston alone?"

"Yes, sir!"

Benjamin closed the conversation as soon as he could conveniently, after perceiving that his appearance had excited suspicions, and went to his room, where he lay down and slept till six o'clock in the evening, when he was called to supper. He went to bed again very early, and was soon locked in the embrace of "nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep."



CHAPTER XVII.

GETTING WORK.

After a good night's sleep, Benjamin arose and dressed himself as neatly as he could with his old clothes, and repaired to Andrew Bradford's printing-office.

"Ah! then you have arrived," said an old gentleman, rising to salute him as he entered. "I reached here first."

"Oh, it is Mr. Bradford!" exclaimed Benjamin, surprised at meeting the old printer whom he saw in New York, and who directed him to his son, Andrew Bradford, of Philadelphia. "I did not expect to meet you here."

"I suppose not. I started off unexpectedly, and came all the way on horseback. But I am glad that you have reached here safely. This is a young man from Boston" (addressing his son and introducing Benjamin), "after work in a printing-office, and I directed him to you. Franklin is your name, I believe."

"Yes, sir! Benjamin Franklin."

Mr. Bradford received him very cordially, and being about to eat breakfast, he said: "Come, it is my breakfast hour, and you shall be welcome to the table. We can talk this matter over at the table;"—and Benjamin accepted the invitation.

"I told this young man," said the old printer from New York, "that one of your men died a short time since, and you would want a printer to take his place."

"That is true," replied Mr. Andrew Bradford. "I did want another hand to take his place, but I hired one only a few days since. I am sorry to disappoint this youth who has come so far for work."

"Is there another printing-office here?" asked Benjamin.

"Yes; a man by the name of Keimer has just commenced the business, and I think he would be glad to employ you."

"I must get work somewhere," added Benjamin, "for I have spent nearly all my money in getting here."

"If he will not employ you," added Mr. Bradford, kindly, "you may lodge at my house, and I will give you a little work from time to time until business is better."

"That will be a great favour to me," answered Benjamin, "for which I shall be very thankful;" and he really felt more grateful to Mr. Bradford for the offer than his words indicated.

"I will go with you to see Mr. Keimer," said old Mr. Bradford from New York. "Perhaps I can be of some service to you in securing a place."

Benjamin began to think he had fallen into very obliging hands; so he followed their advice, and went with his aged friend to see the newly-established printer. On arriving at the office, they met Mr. Keimer, and old Mr. Bradford introduced their business by saying: "Neighbour, I have brought to see you a young man of your business; perhaps you may want such a one."

"That depends on his qualifications," answered Mr. Keimer. "How long have you worked at the business?" he inquired, turning to Benjamin.

"Several years, sir."

"Do you understand all parts of it so that you can go on with it?"

"I think I do; you can try me and satisfy yourself."

"Take this composing-stick and let me see whether you are competent or not," said Keimer.

Benjamin proceeded to exhibit his skill at the work, and very soon satisfied Keimer that he had told the truth.

"Very well done," said Keimer. "I will employ you as soon as I have sufficient work to warrant such a step. At present I have nothing for you to do."

Here Benjamin saw the advantage of having attended to his business closely, so as to learn thoroughly the work he was to do. Some boys perform their work in just a passable way, not caring particularly whether it is well done, if they can only "pass muster." But not so with Benjamin. He sought to understand the business to which he attended, and to do as well as possible the work he undertook. The consequence was that he was a thorough workman, and in five minutes he was able to satisfy Keimer of the fact. This was greatly in his favour; and such a young man is never long out of business.

Turning to Bradford, Keimer said, supposing him to be a Philadelphian who wished him well in his new enterprise: "What do you think of my prospects here, sir? Do you think I shall succeed in my business?"

"That will depend upon your own exertions and business talents," was Bradford's reply.

"I shall do all in my power to draw the business of the town," added Keimer; "and I think I can do it."

"But how can you expect to get all the business when there is another printer here, who has been established some time?"

Keimer answered this last inquiry by disclosing his plans, as Bradford quietly drew him out on every point, until he learned how he was calculating to command all the business, and run his son out. Nor did Keimer dream that he was conversing with the father of the other printer whom he designed to deprive of his livelihood. All the while Benjamin stood and listened to their conversation, perceiving that Mr. Bradford was shrewdly learning Keimer's plans for his son's benefit.

"Did you not know that man?" inquired Benjamin, after Bradford left, leaving him in the office.

"No; but I thought that he was one of the town's people who wished me well in my business, and therefore came in to introduce you."

"It is not so," replied Benjamin. "That was the father of Andrew Bradford, your neighbour, the printer. He carries on printing in New York."

"It can't be!" exclaimed Keimer, astonished at this bit of news, and startled at the thought of having made known his plans to a competitor.

"It can be," replied Benjamin. "He is certainly Bradford, the New York printer, and father of Andrew Bradford, the printer of this town."

"How happened it that he should come here with you?"

"I can tell you in few words," said Benjamin; and he went on and told him of his going to New York, and how he happened to come to Philadelphia, and meet Mr. Bradford there, and finally how he found his way to Keimer's office.

"It will learn me a good lesson," said Keimer. "When I divulge secrets to another man whom I don't know, I shall not be in my right mind."

Benjamin spent a short time in looking over Keimer's office, and found that his press was old and damaged, and his fount of English types nearly worn out. Possessing much more ingenuity than Keimer, and understanding a printing-press much better, he went to work, and in a short time put it into decent order for service. Keimer was composing an Elegy on Aquila Rose, an excellent young man who worked for Bradford, and who had recently died; and he agreed to send for Benjamin to print it off when it was ready. With this arrangement, Benjamin returned to Mr. Bradford to eat and lodge. A few days after he received a message from Keimer that the Elegy was ready to be printed. From that time Keimer provided him with work.

"You must have another boarding-place," said Keimer to him one day. Benjamin was still boarding at Bradford's, and this was not agreeable to Keimer.

"Just as you please," answered Benjamin; "I am satisfied to board there or go elsewhere."

"I can get you boarded with an acquaintance of mine, I think, where you will find it very pleasant. I am confident that you will like it better there than at Mr. Bradford's."

"I will go there, if you think it is best," added Benjamin. "My chest has arrived, and I can look a little more respectable now than I could before."

The result was, that he went to board at Mr. Read's, the father of the young lady who stood in the door when he passed on the aforesaid Sunday morning with a roll of bread under each arm. His appearance was much improved by this time, so that even Miss Read saw that he was an intelligent promising young man.

We learn one or two things about Benjamin from the foregoing, which the reader may ponder with benefit to himself. In the first place, he must have been very observing. He understood the construction of a printing-press so well, that he could put an old one into running order, youth as he was, when its proprietor was unable to do it. This is more remarkable, because he was not obliged to study the mechanism of a printing-press in order to work it. Doubtless many a person operates this and other machines without giving any particular attention to their structure. But a class of minds are never satisfied until they understand whatever commands their attention. They are inquisitive to learn the philosophy of things. It was so with Benjamin, and this characteristic proved a valuable element of his success. It was the secret of his inventions and discoveries thereafter. It was so with Stephenson, of whom we have spoken before. As soon as he was appointed plugman of an engine, at seventeen years of age, he began to study its construction. In his leisure hours, he took it to pieces and put it together again several times, in order to understand it. So of William Hutton, whose name is mentioned in another place. Encouraged by a couplet which he read in Dyce's Spelling-book—

"Despair of nothing that you would attain, Unwearied diligence your end will gain,"

he sought to master everything that he undertook. One day he borrowed a dulcimer, and made one by it. With no other tools than the hammer-key, and pliers of the stocking-frame for hammer and pincers, his pocket-knife, and a one-pronged fork that served as spring, awl, and gimlet, he made a capital dulcimer, which he sold for sixteen shillings. Here were both observation and perseverance, though not more finely developed than they were in the character of young Benjamin Franklin.

Another important truth is learned from the foregoing, namely, that Benjamin was not proud. A sight of him passing up Market Street, with three large rolls of bread, is proof of this; or his appearance in the street and Quaker church in his everyday garb, because his best suit was "coming round by sea," is equally significant. How many boys of his age would have stayed away from church until the "best clothes" arrived! How many would seek for some concealment of their poverty, if possible, in similar circumstances! But these were small matters to Benjamin, in comparison with finding employment and earning a livelihood. He had a destiny to work out, and in working that he must do as he could, and not always as he would. He cared not for the laughs and jeers of those who could dress better and live more sumptuously than himself, since it was absolutely necessary for him to dress as he did, in order to "make his ends meet." He might have followed the example of some young men, and run into debt, in order to "cut a dash;" but he believed then, as he wrote afterwards, that "lying rides on debt's back," and that it is "better to go to bed supperless than to rise in debt;" or, as he expressed himself in other maxims, "Those have a short Lent who owe money to be paid at Easter," and "It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep one in fuel."



CHAPTER XVIII.

NEWS FROM HOME, AND RETURN.

Hitherto Benjamin had lived contentedly in Philadelphia, striving to forget Boston and old familiar scenes as much as possible. No one at home knew of his whereabouts, except his old friend Collins, who kept the secret well. One day, however, a letter came to his address, and the superscription looked so familiar that Benjamin's hand fairly trembled as he broke the seal. It proved to be from his brother-in-law, Robert Homes, "master of a sloop that traded between Boston and Delaware." He came to Newcastle, it seems, about forty miles from Philadelphia, and, hearing of Benjamin's place of residence, he sat down and wrote him a letter, telling him of the deep sorrow into which his departure had plunged his parents, who still were wholly ignorant of his fate, and exhorting him to return home to his friends, who would welcome him kindly. The letter was a strong appeal to his feelings.

Benjamin sat down and replied to the letter, stating his reasons in full for leaving Boston, giving an account of his present circumstances and prospects, and closing by expressing kind feelings for all the loved ones at home, but declining to return.

Not many days after Benjamin wrote and sent his letter, an unusual scene transpired at the office. He was at work near the window, when, on looking out, he saw Governor Keith approaching.

"The Governor is coming in," said he to Keimer.

Keimer looked out of the window, and saw that it was so, whereupon he hurried down to the door, not a little excited by the thought of waiting upon the Governor, supposing, of course, that he was coming in to see him.

"Does Benjamin Franklin work for you?" inquired the Governor.

"He does," answered Keimer, both astonished and perplexed by the inquiry. What he could want of him he could not imagine.

"Can I see him?" asked the Governor.

"Certainly; walk in." The Governor and Colonel French, who was with him, were ushered into the presence of Benjamin.

"I am happy to make the acquaintance of a young man of your abilities," he said to him. "I regret that you did not report yourself to me long ago."

Benjamin was too much astonished at the unexpected interview to be able to reply; and the Governor went on to say, that "he called to invite him to an interview at the tavern." Benjamin was more perplexed than ever, and Keimer stared with amazement. But after some hesitation, arising from sudden surprise, Benjamin consented to go with the Governor, and was soon seated with him and Colonel French in a room of the tavern at the corner of Third Street.

"I called to see you," said the Governor, "respecting the printing business in this town. I understand that you are well acquainted with it in all its branches, and, from my knowledge of your abilities, I think you would succeed admirably in setting up the business for yourself. Our printers here are ignorant and inefficient, and we must have more competent men to do the government work."

How the Governor knew so much about his qualifications for the business, Benjamin could not divine. He replied, however, "I have nothing to commence business with, and it will require some capital. My father might assist me if he were disposed; but I have no reason to think that he would."

"I will write to him upon the subject," said the Governor, "and perhaps he may be persuaded. I can show him the advantages of such an enterprise to yourself and the public, so that he cannot doubt the practicability of the thing."

"There are two printers here already," continued Benjamin; "and a third one would hardly be supported."

"A third one, who understands the business as you do," responded the Governor, "would command the chief business of the town in a short time. I will pledge you all the public printing of the government."

"And I will pledge the same for the government of Delaware," said Colonel French of Newcastle.

"There can be no doubt on this point," continued Governor Keith. "You had better decide to return to Boston by the first vessel, and take a letter from me to your father."

"I will so decide at once, if such is your judgment in the matter," replied Benjamin.

"Then it is understood," added his Excellency, "that you will repair to Boston in the first vessel that sails. In the mean time, you must continue to work for Mr. Keimer, keeping the object of this interview a profound secret."

Having made this arrangement, they separated, and Benjamin returned to the printing-office, scarcely knowing how he should evade the anticipated inquisitiveness of Keimer respecting the interview; but he succeeded in keeping the secret. His mind, however, laboured much upon the question, how Governor Keith should know anything about him, a poor obscure printer-boy. It was not until he returned to Boston that this mystery was solved. Then he learned that Keith was present at Newcastle when his brother-in-law received his (Benjamin's) letter, and Captain Homes read it aloud to him.

"How old is he?" asked the Governor.

"Seventeen," replied Captain Homes.

"Only seventeen! I am surprised that a youth of that age should write so well. He must be an uncommon boy."

Captain Homes assured him that he was a very competent youth, and possessed abilities that qualified him for almost any place. Here was the secret of Keith's interest in the printer-boy, but of which the latter knew nothing until he met his brother-in-law in Boston.

Before an opportunity offered for Benjamin to go to Boston, Governor Keith frequently sent for him to dine with him, on which occasions he conversed with him in a very friendly and familiar way. It was quite unusual for a boy of seventeen years to become the frequent guest of a Governor, and no wonder he was almost bewildered by the unexpected attention. Some would have become vain and proud in consequence of such attentions; but Benjamin bore the honours meekly.

About the last of April, 1724, a small vessel offered for Boston. Benjamin made arrangements to go, took leave of Keimer as if going to visit his friends, and, with Keith's letter to his father, sailed. The vessel had a boisterous time at sea, but after a fortnight's voyage she entered Boston harbour. Benjamin had been absent seven months, and his parents had not heard a word from him. His brother-in-law had not returned from Newcastle, nor written to them about his knowledge of Benjamin. The reader may well imagine, then, that he took them all by surprise. His poor mother had laid his absence to heart so much, that it had worn upon her, and his return was to her almost like life from the dead. She was overjoyed, and no language could express her delight as she looked into the face of her long-lost Benjamin. His father was not less rejoiced, although he had a different way of showing it. Indeed, all the family, except his brother James, gave him a most cordial and affectionate welcome. He did not return ragged and penniless, as runaways generally do, but he was clad in a new and handsome suit, carried a watch in his pocket, and had about five pounds sterling in silver in his purse. He never looked half so genteel and neat in his life, and certainly never commanded so much money at one time before.

Before his brother James heard of his arrival, Benjamin hastened to the printing-office, and startled him by suddenly standing before him. James stopped his work, saluted him in rather a reserved manner, and, after surveying him from head to foot, turned to his work again. It was rather a cold reception on the whole, but not altogether unexpected to Benjamin. A brother who had driven him away by his harsh treatment could hardly be expected to welcome him back with a very warm heart.

The journeymen were delighted to see him, and they were very inquisitive.

"Where have you been, Ben?" asked one.

"To Philadelphia," he answered.

"What kind of a place is it?"

"It is one of the finest places I ever saw. I like it better than Boston."

"Going back?" inquired a second person.

"Yes; and very soon, too," he replied. "That is the place for the printing business."

"What kind of money do you have there?" inquired Another. There was no established currency in the country at that time, and his interrogator wanted to know what they used in Philadelphia.

Instead of replying directly, Benjamin drew the silver from his pocket, and spread it out before them. It was quite a curiosity to them, as they used only paper money in Boston; and, besides, it caused them to think that their old associate had fallen upon lucky days.

"You made a lucky hit, Ben, this time," said one.

"Heavy stuff to carry about," suggested a second. "A man would want a wheelbarrow if he had much of it."

"Perhaps you would accept of the wheelbarrow and silver together, rather than have neither," responded Benjamin.

By this time Benjamin's watch was discovered, and there was a general desire to see it; so he laid it down before them, while his brother appeared "grum and sullen."

"That is a convenient companion," said Benjamin, as he laid it down.

"And you can afford to have such things," added one of the number, "because you save your money, and don't spend it for pleasure, drink, and luxuries."

"Ben has fared so well," said one, "that it belongs to him to treat the company." As we have said before, the use of intoxicating drinks was general at that time, and when old friends met, it was common to signalize the occasion by the use of such beverage. Had Benjamin lived at this day, with his temperate habits, he would have refused to pander to their appetite for strong drink, and suggested some other kind of treat. But, living as he did when there were no temperance societies, and no alarm at the growing evils of intoxication, he accepted the proposal in his accustomed generous way.

"There is a dollar," said he, throwing out a dollar in silver, "take that, and drink what you please for old acquaintance sake." Then, pocketing his watch and money, he took his leave.

His brother was greatly incensed at this visit, and regarded it in the light of an insult. His mother endeavoured to bring him to terms of reconciliation with Benjamin, but in vain.

"You are brothers," said she, "and you ought to behave towards each other as brothers. It is very painful to me to think of your hostility to Benjamin, and I do hope that you will forget the past, and be true to each other in future."

"Never," replied James. "He insulted me so directly before my workmen the other day, that I shall not forget nor forgive it."

James was mistaken in his view of Benjamin's intention. The latter did not mean to insult him at the office. He would have been glad of a cordial welcome from James, and his feelings were such that he would have rejoicingly blotted out the recollection of his former ill-treatment, had James met him as a brother.

Benjamin took the first opportunity to make known to his father the object and circumstances of his visit home, and to hand him the Governor's letter, which he received with manifest surprise, though he evidently doubted whether it was genuine. For several days he entered into no conversation about the matter, as he did not exactly know what to make of it. Just then Captain Homes returned, and Mr. Franklin showed him the letter of Governor Keith, and inquired if he knew the man.

"I have met him," replied Captain Homes, "and was pleased with his appearance. I think it would be well for Benjamin to follow his advice."

"He cannot be a man of much discretion," continued Mr. Franklin, "to think of setting up a boy in business who lacks three years of arriving at his majority. The project does not strike me favourably at all."

"He was much taken with Benjamin's abilities," added Captain Homes, "by a letter which I received from him at Newcastle, and which I read to him, as he was present when I received it."

"His letters may be well enough, for aught I know; but a youth of his age, though his abilities be good, has not sufficient judgment to conduct business for himself. I shall not give my consent to such a wild scheme."

Mr. Franklin replied to Governor Keith's letter, and thanked him kindly for the patronage he offered his son, but declining to set up a youth in a business of so much importance.



"I am rejoiced," said he to Benjamin, just before the latter started to go back, "that you have conducted yourself so well as to secure the esteem of Sir William Keith. Your appearance, too, shows that you have been industrious and economical, all of which pleases me very much. I should advise you to go back, and think no more of going into business for yourself until you are of age. By industry, economy, and perseverance you will be able to command the means of establishing business then. As yet you are too young. I should be glad to have you remain here with your brother, if he could be reconciled to you; but as it is, you shall have my approbation and blessing in returning to Philadelphia."

It was during this visit to Boston that he called upon the celebrated Dr. Increase Mather, to whose preaching he had been accustomed to listen. The Doctor received him kindly, and introduced him into his library, where they chatted in a familiar way for some time. When Benjamin rose to go out, "Come this way," said the Doctor, "I will show you a nearer passage out,"—pointing him to a narrow passage, with a beam crossing it over head. They were still talking, the Doctor following behind, and Benjamin partly turned around toward him.

"Stoop! stoop!" shouted the Doctor.

Benjamin did not understand what he meant, until his head struck against the beam with considerable force.

"There," said the Doctor, laughing, "you are young, and have the world before you; stoop as you go through it, and you may miss many hard thumps."

Nearly seventy years after, the recipient of this counsel wrote:—

"This advice, thus beaten into my head, has frequently been of use to me; and I often think of it, when I see pride mortified, and misfortunes brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high."

Benjamin's old companion, Collins, was delighted with his account of Philadelphia, and resolved to accompany him thither on his return. He was a clerk in the post-office; but he gave up his situation for the more alluring prospects of a residence in Pennsylvania. He started two or three days before Benjamin, as he wanted to stop and make a visit in Rhode Island, having previously gathered up his books, "which were a pretty collection in mathematics and philosophy," and packed them to go, with Benjamin's baggage, around by sea to New York, where they would meet.



CHAPTER XIX.

BACK AGAIN.

On his return, Benjamin sailed in a sloop to New York, where he had arranged to meet Collins. They put in at Newport on business, where he had a good opportunity to visit his brother John, who had been married and settled there some years. He received a very hearty and affectionate welcome from his brother, who was always kind and true to him. His stay was short, as he must go when the sloop did, but he made the most of it, and enjoyed himself much during the short time. Just before he left Newport, a friend of his brother, a Mr. Vernon, requested him to collect a debt for him in Pennsylvania, of about thirty-five pounds currency, and use the money as he pleased until he should call for it. Accordingly, he gave Benjamin an order to receive it.

At Newport they took in a number of passengers, among whom was a Quaker lady and her servants, and two young women. Benjamin was very attentive in assisting the Quaker lady about her baggage, for which she was very thankful. He soon became acquainted with the two young women, and they laughed and chatted together. They were handsomely attired, appeared intelligent, and were extremely sociable. The motherly Quaker lady saw that there was a growing familiarity between them, and she called Benjamin aside, feeling for him somewhat as she would for a son, and said: "Young man, I am concerned for thee, as thou hast no friend with thee, and seems not to know much of the world, or of the snares youth is exposed to; depend upon it, these are very bad women; I can see it by all their actions; and if thou art not upon thy guard, they will draw thee into some danger; they are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, in a friendly concern for thy welfare, to have no acquaintance with them."

"Indeed," said Benjamin, with much surprise, "I see nothing out of the way in them. They are intelligent and social; and I am rather surprised at your suspicions."

"But I have heard them say enough to convince me that my suspicions are well founded," replied the old lady; and she repeated to him some of their conversation which she had overheard.

"You are right, then," quickly answered Benjamin, after listening to her. "I am much obliged to you for your advice, and I will heed it."

Just before they arrived at New York, the young women invited him to call at their residence, naming the street and number, but he did not accept their invitation. The next day the captain missed a silver spoon and other things from the cabin, and suspecting the two girls, had their residence searched, where the missing articles were found, in consequence of which the artful thieves were punished. Benjamin always felt thankful to the old lady for her timely warning, and considered that following her advice probably saved him from trouble and ruin.

Collins had been in New York several days when Benjamin arrived. The latter was astounded to find him intoxicated when they met.

"Can it be," he exclaimed to Collins, "that you are intemperate?"

"I intemperate!" retorted Collins, disposed to resent the accusation. "Do you call me drunk?"

"No, you are not exactly drunk; but then you are disguised with liquor, and I am utterly astonished. Once you was as temperate and industrious as any young man in Boston, and far more respected than most of them. How did it happen that you formed this evil habit?"

Collins saw that he could not deceive Benjamin; so he made a clean breast of the matter, and confessed to have formed intemperate habits soon after Benjamin first left Boston. He said that his appetite for brandy was strong, and that he had been intoxicated every day since his arrival in New York.

"I have lost all my money," he said, "and have nothing to pay my bills."

"Lost your money!" exclaimed Benjamin. "How did you lose that?"

"I lost it by gaming," he replied.

"What! a gambler, too?"

"Yes, if you will have it so," answered Collins, somewhat coolly; "and you must lend me money to pay my bills."

"If I had known this," continued Benjamin, "I would not have persuaded you to leave Boston. And here let me tell you, that it is impossible for you to find a situation unless you reform."

"Perhaps so," answered Collins; "but that is not the question now that interests me. I want to know whether you will lend me money to pay my bills here and go on my journey?"

"I must, for aught I see," replied Benjamin. "I should not leave you here without money and friends, of course, for that would be cruel. But you must try to reform."

Collins was a very clever young man, as we have seen, possessing marked mathematical talents, and he might have become one of the first scholars of his day, had he enjoyed the advantages of a course of study. Some of the clergymen of Boston showed him much attention on account of his abilities and love of books. But strong drink blasted his hopes.

In New York, Benjamin received a message from Governor Burnet, inviting him to call at his house. This was quite as unexpected as the visit of Governor Keith, and he began to think that governors had a passionate regard for him. He found, however, that the Governor had learned from the captain of the sloop, that he had a young man on board who brought with him a large number of books from Boston. This interested the Governor, and was the occasion of his sending the aforesaid invitation to Benjamin.

He accepted the invitation, and would have taken Collins with him if the latter had been sober. Governor Burnet received him with much cordiality, showed him his large library, and conversed freely about books and authors for some time. It was an agreeable interview to Benjamin, the more so because it was the second time that a Governor had sought him out, and showed him attention.

They proceeded to Philadelphia. On the way Benjamin collected Vernon's debt, which proved fortunate, since otherwise his money would not have carried him through, from having had the bills of two to pay. A good trip brought them safely to their place of destination, and Collins boarded with Benjamin, at the latter's expense, waiting for an opening in some counting-room.

The reader may be curious to learn the fate of Collins, and we will briefly record it here. He tried to secure a situation, but his dram-drinking habits frustrated his exertions. Every few days he went to Benjamin for money, knowing that he had that of Vernon, always promising to pay as soon as he found business. Benjamin, in the kindness of his heart, lent him little by little, until he was troubled to know what he should do if Vernon should call for the money. Sometimes he lectured Collins severely for his habits, until their friendship was essentially modified. One day they were in a boat with other young men, on the Delaware, when Collins refused to row.

"We shall not row you," said Benjamin.

"You will row me, or stay all night on the water, just as you please," retorted Collins.

"We can stay as long as you can," continued Benjamin. "I shall not row you."

"Come, Ben, let us row," said one of the young men. "If he don't want to row let him sit still."

"Row him, if you wish to," replied Benjamin, "I shall not."

"Yes, you will," shouted Collins, starting from his seat. "I will be rowed home, and you shall help do it, or I will throw you overboard;" and he hurried to execute his threat. But, as he came up and struck at him, Benjamin clapped his head under his thighs, and rising, threw him head over heels into the river. He knew that Collins was a good swimmer, so that he had no fears about his drowning.

"Will you row now?" he inquired, as Collins swam towards the boat.

"Not a stroke," he answered, angrily; whereupon they sent the boat forward out of his reach, with one or two strokes of the oar. Again and again they allowed him to approach the boat, when they repeated the question: "Will you promise to row?" and as often received an emphatic "No" for a reply. At length, perceiving that he was quite exhausted, they drew him in without extorting from him a promise to row.

This scene closed the intimate relations of Benjamin and Collins. They scarcely spoke together civilly afterward. Collins sailed for Barbadoes within a few weeks after, and he was never heard from again. He probably died there, a miserable sot, and Benjamin lost all the money he lent him. In later life, Benjamin Franklin referred to this event, and spoke of himself as having received retribution for his influence over Collins. For, when they were so intimate in Boston, Benjamin corrupted his religious opinions by advocating doubts about the reality of religion, until Collins became a thorough sceptic. Until that time he was industrious, temperate, and honest. But having lost his respect for religion, he was left without restraint, and went rapidly to ruin. Benjamin was the greatest sufferer by his fall, and thus was rebuked for influencing him to treat religion with contempt.

Benjamin immediately sought an interview with Governor Keith, and told him the result of his visit home, and gave his father's reasons for declining to assist him.

"But since he will not set you up," said the Governor, "I will do it myself. Give me an inventory of the things necessary to be had from England, and I will send for them. You shall repay me when you are able; I am resolved to have a good printer here, and I am sure you must succeed."

This was said with such apparent cordiality that Benjamin did not doubt that he meant just what he affirmed, so he yielded to his suggestion to make out an inventory of necessary articles. In the meantime he went to work for Keimer.



CHAPTER XX.

A LITERARY GAME.

At this point it is necessary to speak of Benjamin's associates. He was not long in finding new acquaintances in Philadelphia. His industry and general good habits won the respect and confidence of all who came in contact with him. Among those who particularly pleased him were three young men, Charles Osborne, Joseph Watson, and James Ralph, all lovers of reading. Their literary tendencies no doubt attracted Benjamin, and caused him to value their companionship more highly. The first two were clerks of Charles Brockden, an eminent conveyancer of the town, and the other was a merchant's clerk. Watson was a pious young man of sterling integrity, while the others were more lax in their religious opinions and principles. All were sensible young men, much above the average of this class in intellectual endowments. Osborne and Ralph were imaginative and poetical, and frequently tried their talents at verse-making.

Much of their leisure time was spent together, reading to each other, and discussing what they read. Even their Sundays were often wickedly devoted to such intellectual pastime on the banks of the Schuylkill, whither they strolled, instead of visiting the house of God—all except Watson, who had too much religious principle thus to desecrate the Sabbath.

"You overrate your talent for poetry," said Osborne to Ralph, at one of their interviews. "You will never make a poet, if you live to be as old as Methuselah."

"Much obliged for your compliment," answered Ralph; "but it does not alter my own opinion. All poets have their faults when they begin. It is practice that makes perfect."

"It will take something more than practice to make a poet of you," continued Osborne. "That piece which you have just read has no poetry about it. Besides, if you should become a poet, it will not bring you a fortune, as you seem to think."

"Perhaps not; but I am confident that a poet may easily win both popularity and a livelihood. At any rate, I am determined to try it, in spite of your decidedly poor opinion of my abilities."

"Well, I advise you to stick to the business to which you were bred," added Osborne, "if you would keep out of the poor-house. A good clerk is better than a bad poet"—and he cast a particularly roguish glance at Ralph as he said it.

"You need not set yourself up for a critic," said Benjamin to Osborne, after hearing these remarks. "I think more of Ralph as a poet than I do of you as a critic. You are not willing to grant that his productions have any merit at all; but I think they have. Moreover, it is a good practice for him to write poetry, to improve himself in the use of language."

"Fiddlestick!" retorted Osborne; "it is wasting his time, that might be profitably employed in reading."

"Not half so much as your empty criticisms are wasting your breath," said Benjamin, with a smile. "But, look here, I will tell you what we better do. At our next meeting each one of us shall bring a piece of poetry, of our own making, and we will compare notes, and criticise each other."

"I will agree to that," replied Ralph.

"And so will I," added Osborne, "provided you will decide upon the subject now, so that all shall have fair play."

"We will do that, of course," answered Benjamin. "Have you a subject to suggest?"

"None, unless it is a paraphrase of the eighteenth Psalm, which describes the descent of the Deity."

"A capital subject," said Benjamin; "what do you say to taking that, Ralph?"

"I am satisfied with it," replied Ralph; "and more, too,—I rather like it."

Thus it was agreed that each one should write a poetical paraphrase of the eighteenth Psalm for their next meeting, and with this understanding they separated.

Just before the time of their next meeting, Ralph called upon Benjamin with his piece, and asked him to examine it.

"I have been so busy," said Benjamin, "that I have not been able to write anything, and I shall be obliged to appear unprepared. But I should like to read yours;" and he proceeded to examine it.

"That is excellent," said he, after reading it. "You have not written anything that is equal to this."

"But," said Ralph, "Osborne never will allow the least merit in anything of mine, but makes a thousand criticisms, out of mere envy. He will do so with that piece, I have no doubt."

"If he does, it will prove that he is prejudiced against you, or is no judge of poetry," replied Benjamin.

"I have a plan to test him," continued Ralph. "He is not so jealous of you; I wish, therefore, you would take this piece and produce it as yours. I will make some excuse and have nothing. We shall then hear what he will say to it."

"I will do it," answered Benjamin, who was well convinced that Osborne was prejudiced against Ralph; "but I must transcribe it, so that it will appear in my own handwriting."

"Certainly; and be careful that you don't let the secret out."

They met at the appointed time. Watson was the first to read his performance. Osborne came next, and his piece was much better than Watson's. Ralph noticed two or three blemishes, but pointed out many beauties in it.

"I have nothing to read," said Ralph, whose turn came next in order. "I will try to do my part next time."

"Poets ought to be ready at any time," remarked Osborne jestingly. "Well, then, Ben, let us have yours."

"I rather think I must be excused," answered Benjamin, feigning an unwillingness to read.

"No excuse for you," said Osborne. "You have it written, for I saw it in your hand."

"That is true," replied Benjamin; "but after such fine productions as we have heard, there is little encouragement for me to read this. I think I must correct it and dress it up a little before I read it."

"Not a word of it," said Ralph. "There is no excuse for any one who is prepared."

So, after much urging, Benjamin proceeded to read the verses, with seeming diffidence, all listening with rapt attention.

"You must read that again," said Osborne, when the first reading was finished; which Benjamin consented to do.

"You surprise me, Ben," said Osborne, after the piece was read the second time. "You are a genuine poet. I had no idea that you could write like that."

"Nor I," added Watson. "It is better than half the poetry that is printed. If we had not given out the subject, I should have charged you with stealing it."

"What do you say, Ralph?" inquired Osborne. "You are a poet, and ought to be a judge of such matters."

"I don't think it is entirely faultless," responded Ralph. "You have commended it full as highly as it will bear, in my estimation."

"Well done!" exclaimed Osborne. "Your opinion of that piece proves that you are destitute of poetical taste, as I have told you before."

Ralph and Benjamin saw that Osborne was fairly caught, and they hardly dared to exchange glances, lest they should betray themselves. They succeeded, however, in controlling themselves, and allowed Osborne to express himself most emphatically.

Ralph walked home with Osborne, and their conversation was upon Benjamin's poetry.

"Who would have imagined," said Osborne, "that Franklin was capable of such a performance,—such painting, such force, such fire! In common conversation he seems to have no choice of words; he hesitates and blunders; and yet, how he writes!"

"Possibly he may not have written it," suggested Ralph.

"That is the 'unkindest cut of all,'" retorted Osborne, "to charge him of plagiarism. Franklin would not descend to so mean a thing."

They parted for that night; but Ralph embraced the first opportunity to call on Benjamin, and have a sort of rejoicing over the success of their enterprise. They laughed to their hearts' content, and discussed the point of revealing the secret. They agreed that the real author of the article should be known at their next meeting.

Accordingly, the affair was so managed as to bring the facts of the case before their companions at their next gathering. Osborne was utterly confounded when the revelation was made, and knew not what to say for himself. Watson shook his whole frame with convulsive laughter at poor Osborne's expense, and Benjamin joined him with a keen relish. Never was a fellow in more mortifying predicament than this would-be critic, since it was now so manifest that he had been influenced by blind prejudice in his criticisms upon Ralph's poetry. It was certain now that he had given it his most emphatic indorsement. While Osborne was brought to confusion and suffered deservedly, the trick played upon him is not one which can be approved by right-thinking persons. Deceit is never commendable.

A few years after, Watson died in Benjamin's arms, much lamented by all his companions, who regarded him as "the best of their set." Osborne removed to the West Indies, where he became an eminent lawyer, but was early cut off by death. Of the others we shall have occasion to speak hereafter.

It is quite evident that this literary way of spending their leisure time was of great advantage to this group of youths. Doubtless it led to the cultivation of that taste which most of them who lived exhibited for literature and science in after life. It is certainly an example of the wise use of spare moments which the young may safely imitate.



CHAPTER XXI.

GOING TO ENGLAND.

At the earliest opportunity, Benjamin presented the Governor with an inventory of the articles necessary in setting up the printing business.

"And what will be the probable expense of all these?" inquired the Governor.

"About one hundred pounds sterling, as nearly as I can estimate," he replied.

"But would it not prove an advantage for you to be there yourself, to select the types, and see that everything is good?"

"I suppose it would, though such a thing as going to England is scarcely possible with me."

"That remains to be seen," continued Governor Keith. "Another advantage of your being there is, that you could form acquaintances, and establish correspondence in the bookselling and stationery line."

"That would certainly be an advantage," replied Benjamin.

"Then get yourself ready to go in the Annis," said the Governor. The Annis was the annual ship that sailed between Philadelphia and London, and the only one, at that time, which performed this voyage. Instead of there being scores of vessels sailing between these two ports, as now, there was only this solitary one, going and returning once a year.

"It is not necessary to prepare immediately," answered Benjamin, "since it is several months before the Annis will sail."

"True; I only meant that you should be in readiness when the ship sails. It will be necessary for you still to keep the matter secret while you continue to work for Keimer."

Keimer, for whom Benjamin worked, was a singular man in some respects, and liked to draw him into discussions upon religious subjects. At one time he thought seriously of originating a new sect, and proposed to Benjamin to join him, as his masterly powers of argumentation would confound opponents. He wore his beard long, because it is somewhere said in the Mosaic Law, "Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard." Also, he kept the seventh, instead of the first day of the week, as a Sabbath. Benjamin opposed him on these points, and their discussions were frequent and warm. Keimer often exhorted him to embrace his own peculiar views on these subjects. Finally, Benjamin replied, "I will do it, provided you will join me in not eating animal food, and I will adhere to them as long as you will stick to a vegetable diet."

Benjamin was here aiming at some diversion, since Keimer was a great eater, and thought much of a savoury dish. Benjamin wanted to starve him a little, as he thought some of his preaching and practice did not correspond.

"I should die," said Keimer, "if I adopt such a diet; my constitution will not bear it."

"Nonsense!" answered Benjamin. "You will be better than you are now. So much animal food is bad for any one."

"What is there left to eat when meat is taken away?" inquired Keimer. "Little or nothing, I should think."

"I will pledge myself to furnish recipes for forty palatable dishes," answered Benjamin, "and not one of them shall smell of the flesh-pots of Egypt."

"Who will prepare them? I am sure no woman in this town can do it."

"Each dish is so simple that any woman can easily prepare it," added Benjamin.

Keimer finally accepted the proposition. He was to become a vegetarian, and Benjamin was to embrace formally the long-beard doctrine, and observe the seventh day for a Sabbath. A woman was engaged to prepare their food and bring it to them, and Benjamin furnished her with a list of forty dishes, "in which there entered neither fish, flesh, nor fowl." For about three months Keimer adhered to this way of living, though it was very trying to him all the while. Benjamin was often diverted to see his manifest longings for fowl and flesh, and expected that he would soon let him off from keeping the seventh day and advocating long beards. At the end of three months, Keimer declared that he could hold out no longer, and the agreement was broken. It was a happy day for him; and to show his gladness, he ordered a roast pig, and invited Benjamin and two ladies to dine with him. But the pig being set upon the table before his guests arrived, the temptation was so great that he could not resist, and he devoured the whole of it before they came, thus proving that he was a greater pig than the one he swallowed.

It should be remarked here, that for some time Benjamin had not followed the vegetable diet which he adopted in Boston. The circumstances and reason of his leaving are thus given by himself:—

"In my first voyage from Boston to Philadelphia, being becalmed off Block Island, our crew employed themselves in catching cod, and hauled up a great number. Till then, I had stuck to my resolution to eat nothing that had had life; and on this occasion I considered, according to my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had nor could do us any injury that might justify this massacre. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had been formerly a great lover of fish, and when it came out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanced some time between principle and inclination, till recollecting that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then, thought I, 'If you eat one another, I don't see why we may not eat you.' So I dined upon cod very heartily, and have since continued to eat as other people; returning only now and then to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

The time was now approaching for the Annis to sail, and Benjamin began to realize the trial of leaving his friends. A new tie now bound him to Philadelphia. A mutual affection existed between Miss Read and himself, and it had ripened into sincere and ardent love. He desired a formal engagement with her before his departure, but her mother interposed.

"Both of you are too young," said she,—"only eighteen! You cannot tell what changes may occur before you are old enough to be married."

"But that need not have anything to do with an engagement," said Benjamin. "We only pledge ourselves to marry each other at some future time."

"And why do you deem such a pledge necessary?" asked the good mother.

"Simply because 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,'" replied Benjamin, with his face all wreathed with smiles.

"But I have not quite satisfied myself that it is best to give up my daughter to a printer," added Mrs. Read.

"How so?" asked Benjamin, with some anxiety.

"Because," she replied, "there are already several printing-offices in the country, and I doubt whether another can be supported."

"If I cannot support her by the printing business," answered Benjamin, "then I will do it some other way."

"I have no doubt of your good intentions; but you may not realize the fulfilment of all your hopes. I think you had better leave the matter as it is until you return from England, and see how you are prospered."

The old lady won the day, and the young couple agreed to proceed no further at present.

The above reference to the fact that only four or five printing-offices existed in America at that time, may serve to exhibit its rapid growth. For in 1840, there were one thousand five hundred and fifty-seven of them, and now probably there are twice that number.

"I am going to England with you, Benjamin," said Ralph one day, as they met. "Don't you believe it?"

"It is almost too good news to believe," replied Benjamin. "But I should be glad of your company, I assure you."

"It is true," continued Ralph. "I was not jesting when I told you, the other day, that I meant to go if I could."

"Then you are really in earnest? You mean to go?"

"To be sure I do. I have fully decided to go."

Benjamin did not ask him what he was going for; but, from some remarks he heard him make previously, he inferred that he was going out to establish a correspondence, and obtain goods to sell on commission. Nor did he learn to the contrary until after they arrived in London, when Ralph informed him that he did not intend to return,—that he had experienced some trouble with his wife's relations, and he was going away to escape from it, leaving his wife and child to be cared for by her friends.

As the time of their departure drew near, Benjamin called upon the Governor for letters of introduction and credit, which he had promised, but they were not ready. He called again, and they were still unwritten. At last, just as he was leaving, he called at his door, and his secretary, Dr. Baird, came out, and said: "The Governor is engaged upon important business now, but he will be at Newcastle before the Annis reaches there, and will deliver the letters to you there."

As soon as they reached Newcastle, Benjamin went to the Governor's lodgings for the letters, but was told by his secretary that he was engaged, and should be under the necessity of sending the letters to him on board the ship, before she weighed anchor. Benjamin was somewhat puzzled by this unexpected turn of affairs, but still he did not dream of deception or dishonesty. He returned to the vessel, and awaited her departure. Soon after her canvas was flung to the breeze, he went to the captain and inquired for the letters.

"I understand," said he, "that Colonel French brought letters on board from the Governor. I suppose some of them are directed to my care."

"Yes," replied the captain, "Colonel French brought a parcel of letters on board, and they were all put into the bag with others, so that I cannot tell whether any of them are for you or not. But you shall have an opportunity, before we reach England, of looking them over for yourself."

"I thank you," answered Benjamin; "that will be all that is necessary;" and he yielded himself up to enjoyment for the remainder of the voyage, without the least suspicion of disappointment and trouble.

When they entered the English Channel, the captain, true to his promise, allowed Benjamin to examine the bag of letters. He found several on which his name was written, as under his care, and some others he judged, from the handwriting, came from the Governor. One of them was addressed to Baskett, the King's printer, and another to a stationer, and these two, Benjamin was confident, were for him to take. In all he took seven or eight from the bag.

They arrived in London on the 24th of December, 1724, when Benjamin lacked about a month of being nineteen years old. Soon after he landed, he called upon the stationer to whom one of the letters was directed: "A letter, sir, from Governor Keith, of Pennsylvania, America!"

"I don't know such a person," replied the stationer, at the same time receiving the letter.

"O, this is from Riddlesden!" said he, on opening it. "I have lately found him to be a complete rascal, and I will have nothing to do with him, nor receive any letters from him;" and he handed back the letter to Benjamin, turned upon his heel, and left to wait upon a customer.

Benjamin was astonished and mortified. He had not the least suspicion that he was bearing any other than the Governor's letter, and he was almost bewildered for a moment. The thought flashed into his mind that the Governor had deceived him. In a few moments his thoughts brought together the acts of the Governor in the matter, and now he could see clearly evidence of insincerity and duplicity. He immediately sought out Mr. Denham, a merchant, who came over in the Annis with him, and gave him a history of the affair.

"Governor Keith is a notorious deceiver," said Mr. Denham. "I do not think he wrote a single letter for you, nor intended to do it. He has been deceiving you from beginning to end."

"He pretended to have many acquaintances here," added Benjamin, "to whom he promised to give me letters of credit, and I supposed that they would render me valuable assistance."

"Letters of credit!" exclaimed Denham. "It is a ludicrous idea. How could he write letters of credit, when he has no credit of his own to give? No one who knows him has the least confidence in his character. There is no dependence to be placed upon him in anything. He is entirely irresponsible."

"What, then, shall I do?" asked Benjamin with evident concern. "Here I am among strangers without the means of returning, and what shall I do?"

"I advise you to get employment in a printing-office here for the present. Among the printers here you will improve yourself, and, when you return to America, you will set up to greater advantage."

There was no alternative left for Benjamin but to find work where he could, and make the best of it. Again he had "paid too dear for the whistle," and must suffer for it. He took lodgings with Ralph in Little Britain, at three shillings and sixpence a week, and very soon obtained work at Palmer's famous printing-house in Bartholomew Close, where he laboured nearly a year. Ralph was not so successful in getting a situation. He made application here and there, but in vain; and, after several weeks of fruitless attempts at securing a place, he decided to leave London, and teach a country school. Previously, however, in company with Benjamin, he spent much time at plays and public amusements. This was rather strange, since neither of them had been wont to waste their time and money in this way; and years after, Benjamin spoke of it as a great error of his life, which he deeply regretted. But Ralph's departure put an end to this objectionable pleasure-seeking, and Benjamin returned to his studious habits when out of the office.

At this time, the ability to compose which he had carefully nurtured proved of great assistance to him. He was employed in the printing of Wollaston's "Religion of Nature," when he took exceptions to some of his reasoning, and wrote a dissertation thereon, and printed it, with the title, "A DISSERTATION ON LIBERTY AND NECESSITY, PLEASURE AND PAIN." This pamphlet fell into the hands of one Lyons, a surgeon, author of a book entitled "The Infallibility of Human Judgment," and he was so much pleased with it, that he sought out the author, and showed him marked attention. He introduced him to Dr. Mandeville, author of the "Fable of the Bees," and to Dr. Pemberton, who promised to take him to see Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Hans Sloane invited him to his house in Bloomsbury Square, and showed him all his curiosities. In this way, the small pamphlet which he wrote introduced him to distinguished men, which was of much advantage to him.

While he lodged in Little Britain, he made the acquaintance of a bookseller, by the name of Wilcox, who had a very large collection of secondhand books. Benjamin wanted to gain access to them, but he could not command the means to purchase; so he hit upon this plan: he proposed to Wilcox to pay him a certain sum per book for as many as he might choose to take out, read, and return, and Wilcox accepted his offer. In this transaction was involved the principle of the modern circulating library. It was the first instance of lending books on record, and for that reason becomes an interesting fact. It was another of the influences that served to send him forward in a career of honour and fame.

When he first entered the printing-house in London, he did press-work. There were fifty workmen in the establishment, and all of them but Benjamin were great beer-drinkers; yet he could lift more, and endure more fatigue, than any of them. His companion at the press was a notorious drinker, and consumed daily "a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint at breakfast with his food, a pint between breakfast and dinner, a pint at dinner, a pint in the afternoon about six o'clock, and another when he had done his day's work,"—in all six pints per day. They had an alehouse boy always in attendance upon the workmen.

"A detestable habit," said Benjamin to his fellow-pressman, "and a very expensive one, too."

"I couldn't endure the wear and tear of this hard work without it," replied the toper.

"You could accomplish more work, and perform it better, by drinking nothing but cold water," rejoined Benjamin. "There is nothing like it to make one strong and healthy."

"Fudge! It may do for a Water-American like you, but Englishmen would become as weak as babes without it."

"That is false," said Benjamin. "With all your drinking strong beer in this establishment, you are the weakest set of workmen I ever saw. I have seen you tug away to carry a single form of type up and down stairs, when I always carry two. Your beer may be strong, but it makes you weak."

"You Americans are odd fellows, I confess," added the beer-swigger; "and you stick to your opinions like a tick."

"But look here, my good fellow," continued Benjamin. "Do you not see that the bodily strength afforded by beer can be only in proportion to the grain or flour of the barley dissolved in the water of which it is made? There must be more flour in a pennyworth of bread than there is in a whole quart of beer; therefore, if you eat that with a pint of water, it will give you more strength than two or three pints of beer. Is it not so?"

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse