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general tenor of the plan in question, for the reason that, on adverting to it, as stated, he speaks of it with a just satisfaction, as being the more worthy of mention because, though formed at so early an age, he had, nevertheless, “pretty faithfully adhered to it, quite through to old age.”
On returning to Philadelphia, and looking about among his former acquaintances to reconnect the social ties which had been temporarily severed, Benjamin found that an absence of less than even two years had made room for various changes. During that absence, Sir William Keith, the governor of the province when Benjamin sailed for England, had been removed, and Major Patrick Gordon appointed in his place. Keith, however, still remained in Philadelphia; and when he again saw in its streets the young man he had so unworthily deceived, manifested some consciousness of shame for his conduct, by shrinking away from any meeting with him.
But a change of more interest to Benjamin was the marriage of Miss Read. After the arrival of the letter, which, as heretofore mentioned, he wrote to her from London, her friends insisted that there was no probability he would ever return, and persuaded her to marry a man by the name of Rogers. He was a potter by trade, and is represented as being a very skilful workman. His prospects in business being considered highly promising, the friends of Miss Read urged the match, without making, as it seems, any sufficient inquiry into his personal character or private connections. The
marriage was an ill-judged and unhappy one; and from the circumstances attending it, as briefly alluded to by Franklin, it seems nearly certain that the young lady herself assented to it very reluctantly. It was soon followed by her refusal to live with her husband, or to be called by bis name ; and a report becoming prevalent that he actually had another wife living, she wholly renounced the connection. Rogers, in fact, proved to be unprincipled and worthless; and a year or two later, having involved himself deeply in debt, he absconded to the West Indies, where he died; thus relieving his nominal wife and her friends from all further embarrassment or annoyance through him.
Of the other persons already introduced into this narrative on account of their connection with Benjamin, the only one remaining to be noticed in this place, was the eccentric Keimer. His condition appeared to have become considerably improved. He had obtained possession of a much better house, in which he had opened a shop, with a good assortment of stationery; his printingoffice was well supplied with types and other furniture; and he had several workmen in his employ, with apparently work enough to keep them busy.
Benjamin, however, had returned, it will be recollected, not as a journeyman printer, but as a merchant's clerk. His principal and friend, Mr. Denham, lost no time in opening his store of goods; and his clerk, giving diligent and earnest attention to his new business, soon made himself a correct and ready accountant, as well as an adroit and acceptable salesman. They both lived under the same roof, more like father and son than as master and servant; the excellent and intelligent Quaker merchant taking a sincere paternal interest in the welfare of his young friend and assistant, and the latter cherishing for his patron and employer a truly filial respect and affection.
A letter of Benjamin's, dated on the 6th of January, 0. S., 1727— the 21st anniversary of his birthday – to Jane, his youngest sister, and the last child of her parents, presents such pleasing proof of the kindliness of his nature, and, besides the justness of its sentiments, gives so early an indication of the prevalent bent of his mind in favor of what is useful rather than showy, that the insertion of it here seems to be demanded, not merely for the reasons mentioned, but as being in a manner necessary to the just estimate of his character. To give the letter its full significance, moreover, it should be observed that Jane Franklin was now fast verging to the end of her 15th year, which was completed in the following March, and that her brother had recently heard of her intended marriage with Edward Mecom, which actually took place in the succeeding July, the fourth month of her 16th year. The interest of this letter is somewhat enhanced, also, by the fact that, excepting only the brief note to Sir Hans Sloane, relative to the asbestos purse, this is the earliest piece of writing from the same pen, now in print. The letter is as follows :
“Dear Sister; I am highly pleased with the account Captain Freeman gives me of you. I always judged by your behavior when a child, that
would make a good and agreeable woman; and you were ever my peculiar favorite. I have been thinking what would be a suitablo present for me to make, and for you to receive, as I hear you are grown a celebrated beauty. I had almost determined on a tea-table ; but when I considered, that the character of a good housewife was far preferable to that of being only a pretty gentlewoman, I concluded to send you a spinning-wheel,
MR. DENHAM DIES.
which I hope you will accept as a small token of my sincere love and affection.
“Sister, farewell; and remember that modesty, as it makes the most homely virgin amiable and charming, 80 the want of it infallibly renders the most perfect beauty disagreeable and odious. But when that brightest of female virtues shines, among other perfections of body and mind, in the same person, it makes the woman more lovely than an angel. Excuse this freedom, and use the same with me. I am, dear Jenny, your loving brother,
“B. FRANKLIN.” The new mercantile life on which Benjamin had entered, was now opening pleasantly before him, with cheering prospects of success in business, and under the happiest personal relations between himself and his patron, when, early in February, 1727, they were both prostrated by sickness. Benjamin's disease was pleurisy, and it came very near proving fatal. So severe did it become that he gave up any expectation of surviving it; and his intense sufferings under the violent inflammation which marks the disease, produced such exhaustion of spirit and weariness of life, that he felt, for the time, as he relates, some degree of disappointment and regret when he found himself recovering, and reflected that, sooner or later, he must again undergo a similar trial.
The disease which seized upon Mr. Denham is not named; but after a protracted struggle the worthy man died under it, in the course of the spring. His stock of merchandise passed into the hands of his executors ; and Benjamin, with a small bequest from his friend as a memorial of goodwill, was again thrown upon his own
His brother-in-law, Captain Holmes, happening, fortunately, to be in Philadelphia, advised him