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was at work upon an elegy upon A quilla Rose, whom I have mentioned above, an ingenious young man, and of an excellent character, highly esteemed in the town, secretary to the Assembly, and a very tolerable poet. Keimer also made verses, but they were indifferent ones. He could not be said to write in verse, for his method was to set the lines as they flowed from his muse; and as he worked without copy, had but one set of letter-cases, and the elegy would occupy all his types, it was impossible for any one to assist him. I endeavored to put his press in order, which he had not yet used, and of which indeed he understood nothing: and, having promised to come and work off his elegy as soon as it should be ready, I returned to the house of Bradford, who gave me some trifles to do for the present, for which I had my board and lodging.
In a few days Keimer sent for me to print off his elegy. He had now procured another set of letter-cases, and had a pamphlet to reprint, upon which he set me to work.
The two Philadelphia printers appeared destitute of every qualification necessary in their profession. Bradford had not been brought up to it, and was very illiterate. Keimer, though he understood a little of the business, was merely a compositor, and wholly incapable of working at Press. He had been one of the French prophets, and knew how to imitate their supernatural agitations. At the time of our first acquaintance he professed no particular rerigion, but a little of all upon occasion. He was totally ignorant of the world, and a great knave at heart, as I had afterwards an opportunity of experiencing.
Keimer could not endure that, working with him, I should lodge at Bradford's. He had in
deed a house, but it was unfurnished; so that he could not take me in. He procured me a lodging at Mr. Read's, his landlord, whom I have already mentioned. My trunk and effects being now arrived, I thought of making, in the eyes of Miss Read, a more respectable appearance than when chance exhibited me to her view, eating my roll, and wandering in the streets.
From this period I began to contract acqnaintance with such young people as were fond of reading, and spent my evenings with them agreeably, while at the same time I gained money by my industry, and, thanks to my frugality, lived contentedly. I thus forgot Boston as much as possible, and wished every one to be ignorant of the place of my residence,except my friend Collins, to whom I wrote, and who kept my secret.
An incident however arrived, which sent me home much sooner than I had proposed. I had a brother-in-law, of the name of Robert Holmes, master of a trading sloop from Boston to Delaaware. Being at Newcastle, forty miles below Philadelphia, he heard of me, and wrote to inform me of the chagrin which my sudden departure from Boston had occasioned my parents, and of the affection which they still entertained for me, assuring me that, if I would return, eve ry thing should be adjusted to my satisfaction; and he was very pressing in his intreaties. I answered his letter, thanked him for his advice, and explained the reasons which had induced me to quit Boston, with such force and clearness, that he was convinced I had been less to blame than he had imagined.
Sir William Keith, Governor of the province, was at Newcastle at the time. Captain Holmes, being by chance in his company when he received my letter, took occasion to speak of me
and showed it him. The Governor read it, and appeared surprised wben he learned my age. He thought me, he said, a young man of very promising talents, and that of consequence, I ought to be encouraged; that there were at Philadelphia none but very ignorant printers, and that if I were to set up for myself, he had no doubt of my success; that, for his own part, he would procure me all the public business, and would render me every other service in his power. My brother-in-law related all this to me af. terwards at Boston; but I knew nothing of it at the time; when one day Keimer and I, being at work together near the window, we saw the Governor and another gentleman, Colonel French, of Newcastle, handsomely dressed, cross the street, and make directly for our house. We heard them at the door, and Keimer, believing it to be a visit to himself, went immediately down: but the Governor enquired for me, came up stairs, and, with a condescension and politeness to which I had not at all been accustomed, paid me many compliments, desired to be acquainted with me, obligingly reproached me for not having made myself known to him on my arrival in the town, and wished me to accompany him to a tavern, where he and Colonel French were going to taste some excellent Madeira wine.
I was, I confess, somewhat surprised, and Keimer appeared thunderstruck. I went, however, with the Governor and the Colonel to a tavern, at the corner of Third Street, where, while we were drinking the Madeira, he proposed to me to establish a printing-house. He set forth the probabilities of success, and himself and Colonel French assured me that I should have their protection and influence in obtaining the printing of the public papers of both governments; anl
as I appeared to doubt whether my father would assist me in this enterprise, Sir William said that he would give me a letter to him, in which he would represent the advantages of the scheme, in a light which he had no doubt would determine him. It was thus concluded that I should return to Boston by the first vessel with the letter of recommendation, from the Governor to my father. Meanwhile the project was to be kept secret, and I continued to work for Keimer as before.
The Governor sent every now and then to invite me to dine with him. I considered this as 2 very great honor; and I was the more sensible of it, as he conversed with me in the most affable, familiar, and friendly manner imaginable.
Towards the end of April, 1724, a small vessel was ready to sail for Boston. I took leave of Keimer, upon the pretext of going to see my parents. The Governor gave me a long letter, in which he said many flattering things of me to my father; and strongly recommended the project of my settling at Philadelphia, as a thing which could not fail to make my fortune.
Going down the bay we struck on a flat, and sprung a leak. The weather was very tempestuous, and we were obliged to pump without intermission; I took my turn. We arrived, how. ever, safe and sound, at Boston, after about a fortnight's passage.
I had been absent seven con te months, and my relations, during that interval, had received no intelligence of me; for my brother-in-law, Holmes, was not yet returned, and had not written about me. My unexpected appearance surprised the family; but they were all delighted at seeing me again, and except my brother welcomed me home. I went to him at the printing
house. I was better dressed than I had ever been while in his service: I had a complete suit of clothes, new and neat, a watch in my pocket, and my purse was furnished with nearly five pounds sterling in money. He gave me no very civil reception; and, having eyed me from head to foot, resumed his work.
The workmen asked me with eagerness where I had been, what sort of a country it was, and how I liked it. I spoke in the highest terms of Philadelphia, the happy life we led there, and expressed my intention of going back again. One of them asking what sort of money we had, I displayed before them a handful of silver, which I drew from my pocket. This was a curiosity to which they were not accustomed, paper being the current money at Boston. I failed not after this to let them see my watch; and, at last, my brother continuing sullen and out of humor, I gave them a shilling to drink, and took my leave. This visit stung my brother to the soul; for when, shortly after, my mother spoke to him of a reconciliation, and a desire to see us upon good terms, he told her that I had so insulted him before his men, that he would never forget or forgive it: in this, however, he was mistaken.
The Governor's letter appeared to excite in my father some surprise; but he said little. After some days, Captain Holmes being returned, he showed it him, asking him if he knew Keith, and what sort of a man he was: adding, that, in his opinion, it proved very little discernment to think of setting up a boy in business, who, for three years to come, would not be of an age to be ranked in the class of men. Holmes said every thing he could in favor of the scheme; but my father firmly maintained its absurdity, and at last gare a positive refusal. He wrote, how