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men, as well as one of the most distinguished statesmen, of that period, and who wished to see him. Upon waiting on him, Benjamin found that Sir William, having heard of his feats in swimming, and of his skill in teaching others to swim, and having two sons about to set forth upon their travels, wished to engage him to make them good swimmers before they went, and would pay liberally for such a service.

The young men, however, had not yet come to town, and Benjamin's remaining time in London, was now too contingent to allow him to undertake the proposed task. The application, nevertheless, induced him to think that, if he could have stayed and opened a swimming-school, it would have paid well; and that he should probably have remained and tried the experiment, if the application had been made before he became engaged with Mr. Denham.

In his own narrative of his life, Franklin closes the account of his residence in London, at this period, with the following paragraph, which will also form an appropriate close to this chapter :

“ Thus had I passed about eighteen months in London. Most part of the time I worked hard at my business, and spent but little upon myself except in seeing plays, and in books. My friend Ralph had kept me poor. He owed me about twenty-seven pounds, which I was now never likely to receive: a great sum out of my small earnings. I loved him, notwithstanding, for he had many amiable qualities. I had improved my knowledge, however, though I had by no means improved my fortune; but I had made some very ingenious acquaintances, whose conversation was of great advantage to me; and I had read considerably.”







On Thursday, the 21st of July, 1726, in the afternoon, Benjamin and his friend Denham went on board the good ship Berkshire, Henry Clark, master, bound for Philadelphia. As appears, however, by the journal, which Benjamin kept of this voyage, it was many days longer before they were able to leave the English waters and get fairly out to sea. Some of the incidents which occurred during this delay on the coast of England, and on the homeward passage, though not incorporated in Franklin's own biographical narrative, are, nevertheless, by no means without interest; and as they not only belong to his life as truly as if they had occurred at a fixed residence on land, but served, also, to enlarge his experience and his stock of ideas, some of the more entertaining and instructive among them are here briefly related.

They lingered in the Thames two days, and did not pass the Downs and enter the straits of Dover till the 24th of July. As they sailed along that narrow sea, at an easy rate, before a fresh breeze and under a clear blue sky, Benjamin, sitting on the quarter-deck of the Berkshire and noting what he saw, in his diary, was favored with one of the fairest and most exhilarating scenes the eye can rest on. A large number of ships, with all their canvass spread and trimmed to every variety of course, were moving before him in all directions over the gleaming waters; the coast of France was looming far in the distance, to the left ; while nearer, on the right, and in distinct view, were seen the town of Dover with the massive towers and battlements of its huge old castle looking down upon it in protecting strength, and the chalky cliffs and green hills of the English shore- all in seeming motion and receding in a sort of countermarch, as he went by.

The next morning, however, the wind failed, and a short calm was followed by very variable weather, till the 27th, when so heavy a gale came from the west, right in their teeth, that they ran for a harbor; and coming to anchor at Spithead, off Portsmouth, Benjamin took the opportunity to visit that ancient town, one of the principal naval stations of England, and famous for its vast ship-yards. The entrance to Portsmouth is stated to be so narrow, with such bold shores, that the forts which guard it, one on each side, are but a stone's throw apart; while the haven within has ample space to moor the whole British navy. He found the place strongly fortified, surrounded by a high wall, with a spacious moat crossed by two draw-bridges fronting, respectively, the two gates of the town, which depended, then as now, for the support of its population, mainly on its ship-yards and the trade connected with them.

One of the most remarkable objects pointed out to Benjamin, during his brief visit to Portsmouth, was a dun

Johnny Gibson's Hole,” under the townwall near one of the gates, where John Gibson, governor of the place in Queen Anne's reign, and a heartless tyrant, made it a practice to shut in and starve the soldiers of the garrison, for the most trifling irregulari

geon, called “



ties. On this cruel and needless severity, Benjamin makes a comment which is here copied, not only for its pertinency and justness, but as an indication, also, of the range of his reading and his habits of reflection, at that early period. Admitting the importance of good discipline, he adds the remark, that "Alexander and Cæsar, those renowned generals, received more faithful service, and performed greater actions, by means of the love their soldiers bore them, than they could possibly have done, if, instead of being beloved and respected, they had been hated and feared, by those they commanded.”

After all, however, the general condition of the rank and file of armies, has been, on the whole, but little relieved by such occasional examples of clemency and care on the part of a few great leaders; and the practice of “ Johnny Gibson,” there is but too much reason to believe, may, in its spirit and essence, be deemed more in accord with actual experience, or a truer specimen of those fruits, which, among nations particularly covetous of martial fame, war, with its manifold concomitants —its costly establishments - the life of its camps and garrisons, and the despotic power and summary procedure by which alone can that life be regulated— has usually yielded to the common soldiery and the mass of the people. Its pomps and splendors its gains and glories — have been mostly for the great

- for the high-born, privileged, or lucky few; while its deadliest perils and most exhausting labors — its foot-blistering marches and weary night-watches — the pestilence of its camps and the bloody havoc of its battle-fields — its nakedness and famine-its dungeons and prison-ships — its desolated hearths, its peeled and scattered families, its heavy taxes, hard toil, maimed limbs, vagrant beggary, and its thousand nameless woes,

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have been the harvest of the humble, unprivileged, unfriended many.

Leaving Portsmouth on the 28th of July and proceeding along the straits, which separate the Isle of Wight from the shore of England, they visited Cowes, Newport, and Yarmouth, the three principal towns of the Isle, and at one or other of which the Berkshire was detained by head winds for nearly a fortnight. Though becoming impatient to be once more in Philadelphia, this delay was by no means lost time to Benjamin; for he took the opportunity to gratify his curiosity by seeing, as fully as circumstances allowed, what that side of the island contained.

Cowes, a port often visited now-a-days by the merchant-vessels of the United States, is built on both sides of a small estuary, which sends a narrow inlet about four miles inland, along a pleasant vale at the head of which stands Newport, the residence of the governor of the island, and an inviting little town, embellished and refreshed by an unusual abundance of fine trees and shrubbery. But Newport is represented as being chiefly remarkable for its trade in oysters, reputed to be superior to any others found on the British coasts. It appears, however, that these oysters are not natives of the place but are procured elsewhere, and, to fatten and prepare them for market, they are planted in regular beds in the Newport waters, which contain, doubtless, some ingredient particularly acceptable to the oysters for food, and imparting to them their fine relish. A case bearing a strong analogy to this, is that of the famous canvass-back ducks, which frequent the lower reaches of the Susquehannah river and the head-waters of the Chesapeake bay, and derive their peculiarly fine and delicate flavor from the wild

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