Page images

minutely related. We landed at Philadelphia on the Ilth of the following October.

Keith had been deprived of his office of governor, and was succeeded by Major Gordon. I met him walking in the streets as a private individual. He appeared a little ashamed at seeing me, but passed on without saying any thing.

I should have been equally ashamed inyself af meeting Miss Read, had not her family, justly des pairing of my return after reading my letter, advised her to give me up, and marry a potter, of the nante of Rogers; to which she consented: but he never made her happy, and she soon separated from him, refusing to cohabit with him, or even hear his name, on account of a reprrt which prevailed, of his naving another wife. His skill in his profession had seduced Miss Read's parents; but he was as bad a subject as he was excellent as a workinan. He involved him. self in debt, and fled, in the year 1727 or 1728, to the West Indies, where he died.

During my absence, Keimer bad taken a more con siderable house, in which he kept a shop, that was well supplied with paper, and various other articles. He had procured some new tyres, and a number of workinen; among whom, however, there was not one who was good for any thing; and he appeared not to want business.

Mr. Denham took a warehouse in Water-street, where we exhibited our coinmodities. I applied my. self closely, studied accounts, and became in a short. time very expert in trade. We lodgeci and eat tcge. ther. He was sincerely attached to nie, and acted Towards ine as if he had been iny father. On my sicie, I respecied and loved him. My situation wahappy ; but it was a happiness of no loug duration

Early in February, 1727, when I entered into my twenty-secund ycar, we were both taken ill. ! was attacked with a pleurisy, which had nearly carried ine off ; I suffered terribly, and considered it as all over with me. I felt indeed a sort of disappointment

when I found myself likely to recover, and regreted · that I had still to cxperience, sooner or later, the

same disagreeable scene again.

I have forgotten what was Mr. Denhanı's disorder; but it was a tedious one, and he at last sulik under it. He left me a small legacy in his will, as a testimony of his friendship, and I was once more abandoned to myself in the wide world, the warehouse being confided to the care of the testamentary executor, who dismissed me.

My brother-in-law, Holnies, who happened to be at Philadelphia, advised me to retum to my former profession; and Keimer offered me a very considera ble salary if I would underake the management of his printing-office, that he might devole himself en. tirely to the superintendence of his shop. His wife and relations in Londur. liad given ine a bad character of sim; and I was loth, for the present, to have any concern with him. I endeavoured to get employment as a clerk to a merchant; but not readily find ing a situation, I was induced to accept Keiner's proposal.

The following were the persons I found in his printing-bouse.

Hugh Meredith, a Pennsylvanian, about thirty-five years of age. He had bren brought up to husbandry, was honest, sensible, had some experience, and was fond of reading; but too much addicted to drinking.

Stephen Potts, o. young rustic, just broke froin school, and of rustic education, with endowments rather above the coinmon order, and a competent portion of understanding and gayety ; but a little idle. Keimer had engaged these two at very low wages, which he had promised to raise every three nionths a shilling a week, provided their improvement in the typographic art shouid merit it. This future increase of wages was the bait lie had irade use of to ensnare them. Meredith was to work at the press, and Potts to bind books, which h wad engaged to teach them,

though he understood neither himself.. • John Savage, an Irishnan, who nad been brought

up to no trade, and wl.ose service, for a period of four years, Keimer had purchased of the captain of a snip. He was also eu e a pressinan.

George Webb), an Oxford scholar, whose time he tad is like manner boughi for füur years, intending

hiin for a compositor. I shall speak more of nim presently.

Lastly, David Harry, a country lad, who was ap. prenticed to nim.

I soou perceived that Keimer's intention, in engag. ing me at a price so inuch ahove what be was accustomed to give, was, thal I might forin all these raw journeymen and apprentices, who scarcely cost bim any thing, and who, being indenturer!, would, as soon as they should be sufficiently instructeil, enable hin to do without me. I nevertheless adhered to iny agreement. I put the office in crder, wliich was in the utmost confusion, and brought his people, by degrees, to pay attention to their work, and to execute it in a more masterly style.

It was singular to see ar. Oxford scholar in the conclition of a purchaseul servant. He was shot more than eighteen years of age ; and the following are the particulars he gave me of himself. Born al Gloucester, ne laid been educated at a grainmar-schvol, and liar clistinguished hiinself arc:ong the scholars, by his suiperior style of acting, when they represented drama. lic performances. He was inember of a literary club in the towıı; and some pieces of his composition, in prose as well as in verse, had been inserted in the Gloucester papers. From hence he was sent in Oxford, where he remained about a year, but he was not contenteil, and wished above all things to see Lonion, and become an actor. At lerigoh, having received fifteen guineas to pay his quarter's boaril, be clecampeil with the money from Oxford, hid liis gown in a hedge, and travelled to London. There, having no friend co direct him, he fell into bad com. pany, soon squandered his fifteen guincas, could find no way of being introduced to the actors, became contemptible, pawned his clothes, and was in want of bread. As he was walking along the streets, almost famished with hunger, arid not knowing what to do,'a recruiting bill was put into his hand, which offered an immedia:e treat and bounty-money to whoever was disposed to serve in America. He instantly repaired to the house of rendezvous, enlisted himself, was put on board a slip. agd conveyed tv American

without cvor writing a line to inform his parents what was become of him. His mertal vivacity, and good natural disposition, malle him an excellent compa. nion; but he was indolent, thoughtless, and to che last degree imprudent.

John, tlie Irishman, soch ran away. I began to live very agreeably with the rest. They respected me, and the more so as they found Keinier incapable

s instructing them, and as they learned something rom me every day. We never worked on a Satur. day, it being Keinuer's sabbath ; so that I had two days a week for reading.

I increased my acquaintance with persons of know. ledge and inforiration in the town. Keimer hinsell treaied ire with great civility and apparent esteem; and I had nothing to give me uneasiness, but iny debt to Veruon, which was unable to pay, my savings ag yet being very little. He had the goodness, however, nol to ask me for the money.

Our press was frequently in want of the necessary quantity of letter; and there was no such trade as that of letter-founder in America. I had seen the practice of this art at the house of James, in London; brit had, at the time, paid it very little attention. I however contrived to labricate a mould. I made uso of such letters as we had for punches, founded new letters of lead in matrices of clay, and thus supplied, in a tolerable manner, the wants that were post pressing. 'I alsc, upon occasion, engraved various ornaments, made ink, gave an eye to the shop; ili short, I was, in every respect, the factotuin. But useful as I made mysell, I perceivel that my services became every lay of less importance, in proportion as the other rien improved; and when Keimer pairt me my second quarter's wages, he gave me to understand that they were too heavy, and that he thought I ought to niake an abatement. He became by degrees less civil, and assumed inore the trne of ina.ler. He frequently sound fault, was difficult to please, and seemed al. ways on tie point of coming to an open quarrel with me.

I continned, however, to bear it patiently, conceir.

Ing that his ill-humour was partly occasioned by the derangernent and embarrassment of bis affairs. At last a slight incident broke our connexion. Hearing a noise in the neighbourhood, I put my head out at the window to see what was the matter. Keimer being in the strert, observed me, and, in a loud and angry tone, told me to mind my work; adding some reproachful werds, which piqued me the more, as they were uttered in the street, and the neighbours, whom the same noise had attracted to the windows, were witnesses of the manner in which I was treated. He immediately came up to the printing-room, and continued to exclaim against me. The quarrel became warın on both sides, and ho gave me notice to quit him at the expiration of three inorths, as had been agreed upon between us; regretting that he was obliged to give me so long a tern. Told him that bis regret was superfluous, as I was ready to quit him mstantly; and I took my laí anii came out of the house, begging Meredith to take care of some things whicn I leti, and bring them to my lodgings.

Meredith canie to me in the erening. We talked for some time upon the quarrel that had taken place. He had conceived a great veneration for nic, ard was sorry I should quit the house while he remained in it. He diseliaded me from returning to my native country, as I began to think of doing. He reminded me that Keimer owed me more than he possessed: that his creditors began to he aiammed; that he kept his shop in a wretc!ied stałe, often selling ulings a: prime cost, for the sake of ready money, and continually giving credit winout keeping any accour:ts; that of consequence, lic must very soon fail, which would oc casion a vacarcy from which I night derive adran. tage. I objected my want of money. Upon which he informed ine that his father had a very lugh opin. mncs ine, and, from a conversation that had passed between them, he was sure that he would acance whatever might be necessary to establish us, if I was willing to enter inve rtnership with him. “My iime with Keimer," meded hu, “ will be at an end next spring. In the mean tiine we may send to London for our press and types. I know that I am no

« PreviousContinue »