Page images

ever a civil letter to Sir William, thanking him for the protection he had so obligingly offered me, but refusing to assist me for the present, because he thought me too young to be intrusted with the conduct of so important an enterprise, and which would require so considerable a sum of money.

My old comrade, Collins, who was a clerk in the post-office, charmed with the account I gave of my new residence, expressed a desire of going thither; and, while I waited my father's determination, he set off before me by land for Rhode Island, leaving his books, which formed a handsome collection in mathematics and natural philosophy, to be conveyed with mine to New York, where he proposed to wait for me.

My father, though he could not approve Sir William's proposal, was yet pleased that I had obtained so advantageous a recommendation as that of a person of his rank, and that my industry and economy had enabled me to equip myself so handsomely in so short a period. Seeing no appearance of accommodating matters between my brother and me, he consented to my return to Philadelphia, advised me to be civil to every body, to endeavor to obtain general esteem, and avoid satire and sarcasm, to which he thought I was too much inclined; adding, that with perseverance and prudent economy, I might, by the time I became of age, save enough to establish myself in business; and that if a small sum should then be wanting, he would undertake to supply it.

This was all I could obtain from him, except some triding presents, in token of friendship from him and my mother. I embarked once more for New York, furnished at this time with their approbation and blessing. The sloop having touched at Newport, in Rhode Island, I

paid a visit to my brother John, who had for some years been settled there, and was married. He had always been attached to me, and he received me with great affection. One of his friends, whose name was Vernon, having a debt of about thirty-six pounds due to him in Pennsylvania, begged me to receive it for him, and to keep the money till I should hear from him: accordingly he gave me an order for that purpose. This affair occasioned me, in the sequel, much uneasiness.

At Newport we took on board a number of passengers; among whom were two young women, and a grave and sensible Quaker lady with her servants. I had shown an obliging forwardness in rendering the Quaker some trifling services, which led her, probably, to feel an interest in my welfare; for when she saw a familiarity take place, and every day increase, between the two young women and me, she took me aside, and said, “Young man, I am in pain for thee. Thou hast no parent to watch over thy conduct, and thou seemest to be ignorant of the world, and the snares to which youth is exposed. Rely upon what I tell thee: those are women of bad characters; I perceive it in all their actions. If thou dost not take care, they will lead thee into danger. They are strangers to thee, and I advise thee, by the friendly interest I take in thy preservation, to form no connection with them." As I appeared at first not to think quite so ill of them as she did, she related many things she had - seen and heard, which had escaped my attention, but which convinced me that she was in the right. I thanked her for her obliging advice, and promised to follow it.

When we arrived at New York, they informed me where they lodged, and invited me to

come and see them. I did not however go, and it was well I did not; for the next day, the Captain missing a silver spoon and some other things which had been taken from the cabin, and knowing these women to be prostitutes, procured a search-warrant, found the stolen goods upon them, and had them punished. And thus, after having been saved 'from one rock concealed under water, upon which the vessel struck dur. ing our passage, I escaped another of a still more dangerous nature.

At New York I found my friend Collins, who had arrived some time before. We had been intimate from our infancy, and had read the same books together; but he had the advantage of being able to devote more time to reading and study, and an astonishing disposition for mathematics, in which he left me far behind him. When at Boston, I had been accustomed to pass with him almost all my leisure hours. He was then a sober and industrious lad; his knowledge had gained him a very general esteem, and he seemed to promise to make an advantageous figure in society. But, during my absence, he bad un. fortunately addicted himself to brandy, and I learned, as well from himself as from the report of others that every day since his arrival at New York be had been intoxicated, and had acted in a very extravagant manner. He had also played and lost all his money; so that I was obliged to pay his expenses at the inn, and to maintain him during the rest of his journey; a burthen that was very inconvenient to me.

The Governor of New York, whose name was Bernet, hearing the Captain say, that a young man who was a passenger in his ship had a great number of books, begged him to bring me to his bouse. I accordingly, went, and should have


[ocr errors]

taken Collins with me, had he been sober. The Governor treated me with great civility, showed me his library, which was a very considerable one, and we talked for some time upon books and authors. This was the second Governor who had honored me with his attention; and, to a poor boy, as I was then, these little adventures did not fail to be pleasing.

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

Collins wished to get employment as a merchant's clerk; but either his breath or his countenance betrayed his bad habit; for, though be had recommendations, he met with no success, and continued to lodge and eat with me, and at my expense. Knowing that I had Vernon's money, he was continually asking me to lend him some of it; promising to repay me as soon as he should get employment. At last he had drawn so much of this money, that I was extremely alarmed at what might become of me, should he fail to make good the deficiency. His habit of drinking did not at all diminish, and was a frequent source of discord between us; for when he had drunk a little too much, he was very headstrong.

Being one day in a boat together, on the Del. aware, with some other young persons, he refused to take his turn in rowing. “You shall row

" said he, “till we get home.”—“No,” I replied, “we will not row for you.”_“You shall,” said he, “or remain upon the water all night.”_"As you please. Let us row, said the rest of the company; what signifies whether he assists or not. But, already angry with him for his conduct in other respects, I persisted in

for me,

[ocr errors]

my refusal. He then swore that he would make me row, or would throw me out of the boat; and he made up to me.

As soon as he was within my reach, I took him by the collar, gave him a violent thrust, and threw bim headforemost into the river. I knew that he was a good swimmer, and was therefore under no apprehensions for his life. Before he could turn himself, we were able, by a few strokes of our oars, to place ourselves out of his reach; and, whenever he touched the boat, we asked him if he would row, striking his hands at the same time with the oars to make him let go his hold. He was nearly suffocated with rage, but obstinately refused making any promise to row. Perceiving, at length, that his strength began to be exhausted, we took him into the boat, and conveyed him home in the evening completely drenched. The utmost coldness subsisted between us after this adventure. At last the Captain of a West-India ship, who was commissioned to procure a tutor for the children of a gentleman at Barbadoes, meeting with Collins, offered him the place. He accepted it, and took his leave of me, promising to discharge the debt he owed me with the first money he should receive; but I have heard nothing of him since.

The violation of the trust reposed in me by Vernon was one of the first great errors of my life; and it proves that my father was not mistaken when be supposed me too young to be intrusted with the management of important affairs. But Sir William, upon reading his letter, thought him too prudent. There was a difference, he said, between individuals: years of maturity were not always accompanied with discretion, peither was youth in every instance devoid of it. “Since your father,” added he, “will not

« EelmineJätka »