Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

ment-house for his letters of credit and recommendation; but a future day was always appointed. The sailing of the ship was postponed more than once; but the governor still was not ready. At last, when the vessel was about to sail, and Franklin called to receive his letters and take leave of sir William, the colonial secretary told him that the governor was much engaged with official papers, but would be down at Newcastle before the ship.

Franklin embarked, and dropped down to that port: Ralph also, deserting a wife and child, sailed with him. Here was surely another erratum in Franklin's history: such a companion for his chosen friend! But Ralph's plan of finally abandoning his family does not appear to have been fully disclosed at this time.

Arriving at Newcastle, Franklin found that the governor was certainly there ; but the secretary received him with apologies, and assured him that it was with the greatest regret sir William Keith could not see him ; but he would not fail to send the promised letters on board, and wished him heartily a successful voyage and speedy return. Franklin was disconcerted at this conduct, so contrary, apparently, to his first cordial professions and general treatment of him; but he was not yet suspicious. He therefore finally arranged his birth, stores, fc. When the governor's despatches for England were brought on board by colonel French, and Franklin inquired for his letters, he was informed by the captain that they were all deposited in one bag, which he could not then have disturbed, but that he would give him an opportunity for inspecting it during the voyage.

Our young philosopher now felt satisfied he was on the high road to fame and fortune, mingled freely with the most respectable passengers in the vessel, and obtained, with Ralph, the birth originally designed for a legal gentleman (Mr Hamilton) and his son, who were recalled to Philadelphia just as the vessel was about to sail. A quaker merchant

was

Mr Denham, was on board, and sailed with him, with whom Franklin contracted a lasting friendship.

In the British channel Franklin was permitted, as agreed, to look for his letters, and finding six or seven with his name on them, as committed to his care, had no doubt all was right. He landed in England, in December 1724, and reached London on the 24th of that month.

One of his letters was addressed to the king's printer; another to a stationer in the city, whose shop happening to be first in his way, he determined to go thither immediately. He delivered his packet to the master himself with no small confidence, as from goyernor Keith.

66 I do not know such a person, the stationer's reply: but opening the letter, he exclaimed, “Oh! this is from Riddlesden; I have just found him out to be a complete rascal, and will receive nothing further from him." So delivering the letter again to Franklin, he turned on his heel toward another person. Our adventurer was now staggered ; and revolving the strange delays, and the altered conduct of the governor towards him, with other circumstances, in his mind, he began to suspect himself duped. In this emergency, he happily found his Quaker friend, who assured him that Keith, far from being able to give him letters of credit on London, had no credit anywhere where he was known: that none who were acquainted with him depended on his promises; and that therefore his letters were not better than blank paper for Franklin. Riddlesden's character (the writer of the refused letter) Franklin and his friend both knew to be indifferent; he had nearly ruined the father of Miss Read: but the letter itself was evidence of his intriguing disposition. It appeared to allude to some secret plan, disconcerting Mr Hamilton's designs in coming to England; and being handed to that gentleman, on his arrival soon after, furnished that important information for which he ever acknowledged himself obliged to Franklin,

At the suggestion of the worthy Denham, he relinquished all dependence on sir William Keith's patronage at once, and applied himself to seeking employment in his business. He was brought, at any rate, to the most propitious spot in the world, for his improvement both as a printer and in all his favourite pursuits. Franklin, in his journal, dismisses Keith's character in a strain of very impartial and manly forbearance; ascribing his desertion of him to the habit " which a foolish wish to please every body may produce; and having little to give," he says quaintly," he gave expectations. He was, otherwise, an ingenious sensible man, and a good governor for the people, though not for the proprietaries, whose interests he disregarded. Several of our best laws were of his planning, and passed during his government."

Thus introduced to that country whose very throne he was destined to shake, the subject of our memoir obtained employment at one Palmer's, a considerable printer in Bartholomew-close. His earnings were considerable, but his habits gay; and his friend Ralph, an idler and a spendthrift, depended wholly upon him. They lodged together in Little Britain, in rooms for which they paid 3s. 6d. a week. Ralph's ambition was to become an actor; but the ruling powers of the drama of that day gave him no encouragement,

and Wilkes, the manager of Drury Lane, candidly advised him to seek some other mode of subsistence. He then offered to engage with one Roberts, a bookseller in Paternoster-row, to produce a succession of essays after the manner of the Spectator; but the publisher did not approve of his specimens. Making a similarly fruitless effort for employment with the scriveners, Ralph resigned himself to dissipation.

Franklin became a compositor on the second edition of “ Woolaston's Religion of Nature,” which awoke a train of metaphysical reflections in his mind. This resulted in his printing, on his own account, “ A short Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and

Pain," which advanced him in his employer's estimation as a young man of talent, while he expostulated with him on the looseness of his principles. The piece was dedicated to his friend Ralph, with the following motto from Dryden:

Whatever is, is right. But purblind man
Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link :
His eye not carrying to that equal beam

That poises all above. We suppose it is in allusion to the principles of this production that Franklin says, “My printing this was another erratum *.This pamphlet procured him some literary acquaint

A neighbouring surgeon introduced him to Mandeville, the author of “ The Fable of the Bees; and this led to his frequenting Mandeville's club at the Horns in Cheapside ; he contracted with a seller of second-hand books for the use of his stock; met at Batson's coffee-house with Dr Pemberton, sir Isaac Newton's friend, and was promised an introduction to that great sage. Sir Hans Sloane welcomed him to his repository in Soho-square, and purchased of him an asbestos purse, and some other American curiosities.

He now recounts another grand erratum of his lifethe total neglect of his engagement with Miss Read;

ances.

* In a letter from Dr Franklin to Mr B. Vaughan, dated Nov. 9, 1779, we have the following account of this pamphlet :

“ It was addressed to Mr J. R. (that is, James Ralph) then a youth of about my age, and my intimate friend; afterwards a political writer and historian.

« The purport of it was to prove the doctrine of fate, from the supposed attributes of God, in some such manner as this. That in erecting and governing the world, as he was infinitely wise, he knew what would be best ; infinitely good, he must be disposed--and infinitely powerful, he must be able to execute it. Consequently, all is right.

“ There were only an hundred copies printed, of which I gave a few to friends; and afterwards, dişliking the piece, as conceiving it might have an ill tendency, I burnt the rest, except one copy, the margin of which was filled with manuscript notes by Lyons, author of the Infallibility of Human Judgment, who was at that time another of my acquaintance in London. I was not 19 years of age when this was written.

In 1730, I wrote a piece on the other side of the question, which begun with laying for its tion this fact; 'That almost all men in all ages and countries have, at times, made use of PRAYER.' Thence I reasoned, that if all things are ordained, prayer must, among the rest, be ordained. But praying exists, therefore all other things are not ordained, &c. This pamphlet was never printed, and the manuscript has been lost. The great uncertainty I found in metaphysical reasonings disgusted me; and I quitted that kind of reading and study for others more satisfactory."

he never having written to her more than one letter from London, to inform her that he was not likely soon to return. She also appears, however, to have been something of the philosopher in love, having been some time married on Franklin's return.

Ralph now openly avowed his intention of never more returning to his wife and child, and took a mistress, whom our hero chiefly maintained; but at length left London to open a village school in Berkshire. During his absence, Franklin took liberties with Mrs T***, which she and Ralph alike resented, and which produced a final separation between the friends :-another erratum, says our honest auto-biographer.

After the completion of twelve months at Palmer's, Franklin removed to the printing office of Mr Watts, in Lincoln's-inn-fields *, where he continued during the whole of his subsequent stay in the British metropolis. He found a contiguous lodging with a widow lady in Duke-street, opposite the Catholic chapel, for which he paid at his old rate of 3s. 6d. weekly, and received no new impression in favour of Christians from his occasional notices of the Romish superstitions in this family and neighbourhood. His landlady was a clergyman's daughter who, marrying a Catholic, had abjured Protestantism, and became acquainted with several distinguished families of that persuasion. She and Franklin found mutual pleasure in each other's society. He kept good hours; and she was too lame generally to leave her room ; frugality was the habit of both ; half an anchovy, a small slice of bread and butter each, with half a pint of ale between them, furnished commonly their supper. So well pleased was the widow with her inmate, that when Franklin talked of removing to another house, where he could obtain the same accommodation as

. When he came to Eng afterwards, as the agent of Massachusetts, he went into the printing office of Mr Watts in Wild-street, Lincoln's-innfields, and going up to a particular press (now in the possession of Messrs Cox and Baylis, of Great Queen-street) thus addressed the two workmen: “ Come, my friends, we will drink together; it is now forty years since I worked like you, at this press, as a journeyman printer.” He sent for a gallon of porter, and they drank " success to printing."

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »