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Before long, however, new dissensions arose between the master and his apprentice; and the impatience of Benjamin, under what he deemed the injurious treatment of his brother, led him to assert his freedom, feeling sure that James would not venture to appeal openly, at law, or otherwise, to the secret indenture. In his own account of this affair, he makes the following frank and ingenuous statement :
“It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with
when under the impressions of resentment for the blows his [James's) passion too often urged him to bestow upon me; though he was otherwise not an illnatured man; and perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.”
Benjamin, however, carried his resentment no further than simply to break off his apprenticeship; for when his brother, on finding him determined to leave, went round and spoke to the other master-printers in Boston, to prevent his procuring employment, instead of disclosing the actual condition of the indentures, he kept the secret, and turned his thoughts elsewhere, and particularly toward New York, as the nearest place in which he would be likely to obtain employment as a printer. Of his views and motives at this time, he has himself given the following account:
“I was rather inclined,” says he, “to leave Boston, when I reflected that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the assembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stayed, soon bring myself into scrapes; and further, that my indiscreet disputations about religion, began to make me pointed at with horror by good people, as an infidel and atheist. I concluded, therefore, to remove to New York ; but my
father now siding with my brother, I was sensible that if I attempted to go openly, means would be used to prevent me.”
In this emergency he resorted to his friend Collins, who, at Benjamin's request, engaged a passage for him in a New York sloop then just about to sail; alleging to the captain, as the reason for his leaving Boston clandestinely, that he had an intrigue with a girl of bad character, whose parents would compel him to marry her, unless he could make his
in this manner. “I sold my books,” says he, “to raise a little money, was taken on board the sloop privately, had a fair wind, and in three days found myself at New York, near 300 miles from my home, at the age of seventeen (October, 1723), without the least recommendation, or knowledge of any person in the place, and very little money in my pocket.”
JOURNEY TO PHILADELPHIA.
INCIDENTS ON HIS JOURNEY TO PHILADELPHIA.
At New York Benjamin's early “hankering for the sea,” if he had still cherished it, might have been easily gratified. Fortunately for him, however, if we may judge from actual consequences, that desire had left him; and having now a good trade, one for which he had acquired a liking, and in which he had become an expert workman, he lost no time in seeking for employment as a journeyman-printer. With this view he went at once to Mr. William Bradford, as the most prominent master-printer at that time in the city. This person had originally been established in Philadelphia, and was the earliest printer in Pennsylvania; but having got into a contest with Keith, then governor of that province, he had transferred himself to New York. Mr. Bradford had no occasion to hire an additional hand, but he told Benjamin that his son, Andrew Bradford, who was engaged in the printing business, in Philadelphia, had been recently deprived, by death, of his principal workman, and would, as he confidently believed, be likely to employ him.
For Philadelphia, then, though a hundred miles further, a distance by no means inconsiderable in those days, he manfully set forth; taking himself a sail-boat for Amboy, but leaving his chest, containing most of his
clothes, to be sent round by sea. While crossing New York bay, on the course for the Kills which separate Staten island from the main shore of Jersey, a violent squall split the sails of the boat, and drove it toward Long island. While thus driving, an amusing incident occurred, of which Franklin gives the following sprightly account:
“ In our way, a drunken Dutchman, who was a passenger too, fell overboard. When he was sinking, I reached through the water to his shock-pate and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, finely printed on good paper,
copper cuts; a better dress than I had ever seen it wear in its own language. I have since found that it has been translated into most of the languages of Europe ; and I suppose it has been more generally read than any book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of, who mixed narrative with dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who, in the most interesting parts, finds himself, as it were, admitted into the company and present at the conversation.” But, to return to the condition of the
which was by no means free from peril—the surf ran so high on the Long island beach, and the tempest was so violent, that the boat's company could neither land themselves, nor receive assistance from the shore ; so, dropping anchor, they rode out the gale as well as they could; and when night came down upon them, they had no resource but to wait patiently for the lulling of the storm. Thus situated, Benjamin and the boat-master, determining to get, if possible, a little sleep, bestowed themselves as
STORM IN NEW YORK BAY.
But the spray
snugly as circumstances permitted, under the hatches alongside of the still wet Dutchman. making a continual breach over the little vessel and dripping down upon them, they were soon as thoroughly soaked as their unlucky bed-fellow who had previously turned in; and in this comfortless condition they passed the night. In the morning, however, the wind went down, and they “made shift to reach Amboy before night, after having been thirty hours on the water, without victuals, and no drink but a little filthy rum, the water sailed on being salt.”
After such an exposure it is not surprising that Benjamin found himself feverish in the evening. Recollecting, however, that he had somewhere seen it stated that copious draughts of cold water were very useful, on such occasions, he had the good sense to give the remedy a fair trial. This gave him, in the course of the night, so effectual a sweating, that, when the morning came, his fever was gone, and he set forth on foot for Burlington, fifty miles distant, on the Delaware river, where he expected to be able readily to obtain passage in a boat to Philadelphia.
A heavy rain fell, all that day, and when noon came he stopped at a small tavern, where he determined to rest till the next morning. On reaching this place, wet, weary, and alone, he experienced such a depression of spirits that he began to wish, as he relates, that he had never left home. His age and appearance, with the other attending circumstances, were such that he soon perceived, by the manner in which he was interrogated, that he was suspected to be a
runaway indentured servant;" and his trouble was increased by the fear of being taken into custody. He was not molested, however, and the next day, pushing stoutly forward, he reached a tavern about ten miles from Burlington, “kept by