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should arrive at great eminence in the art, and even acquire a fortune. The sublinest poets, he pretended, when they first began to write, committed as many faults as himself. Osborne endeavoured to dissuade him, by assuring him that he had no genius for poetry, and advised him to stick to the trade in which he had been brought up.
“In the road of commerce," said he, “ you will be sure, by diligence and assiduity, fliough you have no capital, of so far succeeding as to be employed as a factor; and may thus, in tinie, ac quire the means of setting up for yourself.” I concurred in these sentiments, but at the same time ex. pressed my approbation of amusing curselves some. time with poetry, with a view to in.prove our style. In consequence of this it was proposed, that, at our next meeting, each of us should bring a copy of versus of his own composition. Our object in this competition was to benefit each other by our mutual remarks, criticisms, and corrections; and as style and expres. sion were all we had in view, we excluded every iden of invention, by agreeing that our task should be a version of the eighteenth psalm, in which is described the descent of the Deity.
The tinie of our meeting drew near, when Ralph called upon me, and told me that his performance was ready. I informed him that I had been idle, and, not much liking the task, had done noihing. He show cd me his piece, and asked me what I thought of it. I expressed niyself in terms of warm approbation: because it really appeared to have considerable merit. He then sant, “Osborne will never acknowledge the smallest degree of excellence in any production of mine. Envy alone dictates to him a thousand, aninadversions. Of you, he is not so jealous : I wish, herefore, you would take the verses, and produce diem as your own. I wil pretend not to have had leisure to write any thing. We shall then seo in what manner ne will speak of them. I agreed to this litule artifice, and immediately transcribed the verses to prevent all suspicion. We met.
Waison's performance was the first that was read. It had sone beauties, but many faults. We next read Osirorue's, which was much better
Ralph did it justice, remarking a few in perfectious, and applauding such parts as were excellent. He had hijnself nothing to show. It was now my turn. I made some difficulty ; seemed as if I wished to be excused; pretended that I had no time to make corrections, &c. No excuse, however, was admissible, the piece must be produced. It was read and re-read. Watson and Osborne immediately resigned the palra and united in applauding it. Ralph alone made a few remarks, and proposed some alterations; but I de sended my text. Osborne agreed with me, and toid Ralph that he was no more able to criticise than te was able to write.
When Osborne was alone with me, he expressed himself still more strongly in favour of what he con. sidered as my performance. He pretended that he had put some restraint on himself before, apprehensive of my construing his commendations into fattery. “But who would have supposed,” said he, “ Franklin to be capable of such a composition? What painting, what energy, what fire! 'He has siirpassed the original. In his common conversation he appears not to have a clinice of words; he hesitates, and is at a lossi, and yet, good God, how he writes."
At our next meeting, Ralph discovered the trick wo has played Osborre, who was rallied without mercy.
By this adventure Ralph was fixed in his resolution of becoming a poer. I'ieft nothing unattempted to divert hin from his purpose; but he persevered, till at last the reading of Popo* effected his cure: he he. came, however, a very tolerable prose writer. I shall speak more of him hereafter; hut as I shall probably have no farther occasicn to mention the other two, I ought to observe here, that Watsor died a few years after in my arms. He was greatly regretted; for he was the best of our society. Osborne went to the is. lands where he gained considerable reputation as a barrister, and was getting money; but he died young.
* Probably the Dunciad, where we find him thus immor talized by the author:
Silence ye wolves, while Ralph to Cynthia howls
We had seriously engnged, that whoever died firser should return, if possible, and pay a friendly visit tu the survivor, to give him an account of the other world; but he has never fulfilled his engagenieri.
The Governor appeared to be fond of my company, and frequestly invited me to his house. He always spoke of his intention of settling me in business, asa post that was decided. I was to take with me letters of recominendation to a number of his friends; and particularly a letter of credit, in order to obtain the necessary sumn for the purchase of my press, types, and paper. He appointed various tinies for me to come for these letters, which would certainly be ready; and, when I came, always put me off to another day.
These successive delays continued till the vessel, whose departure had been several times deferred, was on the point of setting sail; when I again went to Sir Williain's house, to receive my letters and take leave of hin. i saw his secretary, Dr. Bard, who told me, that the Governor was extremeiy busy writing, but that he would be down at Newcastle before the vesse!, and that the letters would be delivered to me there..
Ralphi, though he was married and had a child, de. termined to accompany ine in this voyage. His object was supposed to be the establishing a correspondence with some mercantile houses, in order to sell goods by commission: but I afterwards leamed that, having reason to be dissatisfied with the parents of his wife, he proposed to himself to leave her on their hands, and never return to America again.
Having taken leave of my friends, and interchang, ed promises of fidelity with Miss Read, I quiried Philadelphia. At Newcastle, the vessel came to anchor. The Governor was arrived, and I went to his bigings. His secretary received me with great civil. ty, told me, on the part of the Governor, that he could not see me then, as he was engaged in affairs of the utmost importance, but that he would send the letters on board, and that he wished me, with all his heart, a good voyage and speedy return. 1 returned, somt. what astonished, to the ship, but still without entorlaining the slightest suspicion.
Mr. Hamilton, a celebrated barrister of Philadeb phia, had taken a passage to England for himself and his son, and, in conjunction with Mr. Denham, a qua. ker, and Messrs. Onian and Russel, proprietors of a forge in Maryland, nad agıced for the whole canin, so that Ralph and I were obliged to take up our longo ing with the crew. Being unknown to every body in the ship, we were looked upon as of the commor order of people: but Mr. Hamilton and his son it was Tanies, who was afterwards governor) left us at New castle, and returned to Philadelphia, where he was recalled at a very great expense, to plead the cause of a vessel that had been seized; and just as we were about to sail, Colonel French came ou board, and showed me many civilities. The passengers upon this paid me more attention, and I was invited, to gether with my friend Ralph, to occupy the place in the cabin which the return of the Messrs. Hamiltons had made vacant; an ofior which we very readily accepted.
Having learned that the despatches of the Govern had been brought out board by Colonel French, I asked the captain for the letters that were to be entrusted to
He told nie that they were all put together in the bag, which he could not open at present; but, vefore we reached England, he would give ine an op portunity of taking them out. I was satisfied with this answer, and w'e pursued our voyage.
The company in the cabin were all very sociable, and we were perfectly well off as to provisions, as we had the advantage of the whole of Mr. Hamilton's, who had laid in a very plentiful stock. During the passage, Mr. Denham contracted a friendship for me, which ended only with his life: in other respects the voyage was by 110 nicans an agreeable one, as w haw much bad weather.
When we arrived in the river, the captain was as gouu as his word, and allowed ine to search in the bag for the Governor's letters. I could not find a single one with my name written on it, as committed to my care ; but I selected six or seven, which I judged from the direction w be those that were intended for ine; particularly one to Mr. Basket, the King's printer, and another to a stationer, who was the fasa
person I co'led upon. I delivered him the letter as coming froni Governor Keith. “I have no acquaint.. ance," said he,“ with any such person;" and open. ing the leti r, “Oh, it is from Riddlesden !” he ex. claimed. “I have lately discovered him to be a very arrant knare, and wish to have nothing to do with him or his letters." He instantly put the letter into my hand, tv med upon his heel, and left me, to serve ronie customers.
I was astonished at finding these letters were not from thc Governor. Reflecting, and putting circum. stances together, I then began to doubt his sincerity. I rejoined my friend Denham, and relateci the whole affair to hiin. He let me at once into Keith's cha. racter, told me there was not the least probability
of his havirg written a single letter; that no one who * tnew him ever placed any reliance on him, and laugh.
ed at my credulity, in supposing that the Governor would give me a letter of credit, when he had no credit for himself. As I showed some uneasiness res. pecting what step I should take, he advised me to tig to get einployment in the house of some printer. “ You may there," said he, “improve yourself in business, and you will be able to settle yourself the more advantageously when you return to Ainerica."
We knew already as well as the stationer, attorney Riddlesden to be a knave. He had nearly ruined the fatner of Miss Read, by crawing him in to be his security. We learned from his letter, that he was secretly carrying on an intrigue, in concert with ile Governor, to the prejudice of Mr. Hamilton, who, it was supposed, would, hy this time, ie in Europe. Denhar., who was Hamilton's friend, was of opinion that he ought to be made acquainted with it; and, in feality, the instant he arrived in England, which was very sorin after, I waited on him, and as much from good will to him, as from resentnient against the Go venior, put the leter into his hands. He thanked me very sincerely, the information it contained being of consequence to him; and train that moinent bestow. ed on nie, his friendship, which afterwards proved, on many occasions, serviceable to me.
But what are we to think of a Governor who could