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warily avoiding any disclosure of his relationship to Andrew Bradford, gradually pumped from the communicative Keimer, a full account of his plans and prospects, as well as the personal influences and other means, on which he relied for the attainment of his objects; and having thus got all he wanted, the cunning old man went away, leaving Benjamin and Keimer together. The latter, on being informed by his new acquaintance who the old man was, experienced no little surprise and chagrin.

The whole interview, in the deceitful and dishonest craftiness practised by one of the parties, and in the weak and leaky folly with which the other betrayed his most important secrets, to a person whom he did not know, furnished to Benjamin an impressive lesson of the value of circumspection and a discreet reserve, as being only the dictate of ordinary prudence, in all intercourse with strangers upon matters of business, and as generally indispensable to the successful management • of private affairs, amid the keen competitions of life.

Upon inspecting the condition of Keimer's printingoffice, Benjamin found it to be very much as might have been expected, from such a lax and careless character, as the one just now disclosed, and serving to betoken it still more fully. The whole equipment appears to have consisted of old damaged press

and a small wornout font of English types,” which Keimer himself was using in setting up an Elegy to the memory of Aquila Rose, the lately deceased foreman of Andrew Bradford's office; "an ingenuous young man,” says Franklin, “ of excellent character, much respected in the town, secretary of the assembly, and a pretty poet."

In recounting these incidents Franklin adds, that “Keimer made verses too, but very indifferently. He could not be said to write them; for his method was to




compose them in the types, directly out of his head." As there was no written copy, only one pair of cases, and little if any more letter than the Elegy alone would require, the compositor-poet could receive no aid, unless from his muse, in committing his verses to type. Benjamin, however, made himself useful by overhauling the old press, which Keimer had neither used, nor knew how to use; and when he had put it in working order, and had promised to come and work of the Elegy as soon as it was ready, he returned to Bradford, who set him upon a small job, and with whom, for the time being, he quartered. In the course of a few days, it being announced to Benjamin that the Elegy was ready, he went and put it through the press, as he had promised; and Keimer having now procured another pair of cases, set him at work upon a pamphlet, which had just been sent in to be reprinted.

Neither of these men, however, as Franklin found, had more than a very scanty knowledge of the trade they had undertaken. Bradford, it appears, had not only never been bred a printer, but was very illiterate; while Keimer, though he had received more general instruction and was more acquainted with books, knew little or nothing of any part of his business, except merely the setting of types. And though the former was doubtless the superior in point of plain sense and general repute as a citizen, yet the latter, from his peculiarities of temper and habits of thinking, was clearly the more amusing of the two, as an individual man. He was, indeed, an oddity, and his character presented not a little of the grotesque.

He had, at an earlier period, belonged to one of the strange sects of those days, called the French prophets, and he could perform their enthusiastic exercises. this time," however, says Franklin," he did not profess



as he

any particular religion, but something of all, upon occasion; was very ignorant of the world, and had, as I afterward found, a good deal of the knave in his composition.”

As a further specimen of him it may be mentioned that Keimer had a house, but no furniture; so that he could not lodge his new journeyman, whose boarding at Bradford's, nevertheless, while working for himself, he disliked. He therefore procured quarters for Benjamin at the house of his future father-in-law, Mr. Read, where,

says of himself long after, “my chest of clothes being come, I made a rather more respectable appearance in the eyes of Miss Read, than I had done, when she first happened to see me eating my roll in the street."

Being now agreeably settled, with sufficient employment to enable him, by his own industry and frugality, to provide for himself, he began to make acquaintances

among the young people of the town,” particularly such as were “lovers of reading, with whom he spent his evenings very pleasantly,” and endeavored to wean his thoughts from Boston as much as possible.

While thus comfortably situated, working cheerfully at his trade and contented with his prospects, some events pccurred, in the course of a few months, which not only led him to revisit his native place much sooner than he had anticipated, but interrupted his present connexions, and gave a new face and direction to his affairs.

One of his sisters had married Robert Holmes, who was master of a sloop engaged in the coasting-trade between Boston and the towns on the Delaware bay and river. In the course of the winter immediately succeeding Benjamin's fixing himself in Philadelphia, the winter of 1723-'4, Holmes arrived with his sloop at Newcastle, about forty miles below Philadelphia, and




while there, hearing of his young brother-in-law, he wrote him a letter, telling him of the sorrow of his parents and other relatives, at his having absconded they knew not whither, assuring him that their affection for him was undiminished, and that everything would be arranged to his satisfaction, if he would go back to them, which Holmes earnestly besought him to do.

To this letter Benjamin wrote a full and kind reply, expressing his thanks to his brother-in-law for the affectionate regard which had prompted his letter, and placing his own reasons for leaving Boston, in such a point of view and with so much clearness and force, that Holmes became convinced, as he subsequently admitted, that Benjamin had “not been so much in the wrong as he had apprehended.”

Sir William Keith, at that period governor of Pennsylvania, happened to be at Newcastle and in company with Captain Holmes, when Benjamin's letter was delivered to his brother-in-law, who, after perusing it himself, handed it to the

him some account of the writer. The governor, having read the letter, made further inquiries respecting Benjamin ; and, on learning his age, manifested much surprise at finding him so young, and not a little admiration at the uncommon talents and force of character developed so early in life. He went on to say that such a youth should be countenanced and encouraged; he spoke contemptuously of the printers then in Philadelphia, and of the way in which they conducted their business ; expressed his entire conviction that, if Benjamin would open a printing-office on his own account, he would unquestionably be successful; and declared that, for his own part, he would procure for him the public printing, and would render him every kind of assistance and patronage in


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Such, as Captain Holmes informed Benjamin when they subsequently met in Boston, was the warm and encouraging language held by the governor, on the occasion mentioned. At the time, however, nothing of all this had been made known to Benjamin, when, as he and Keimer were one day at work in their printing-office, on looking through a window near them, they saw two well-dressed gentlemen coming across the street directly toward the office, and immediately after heard them at the door below. These gentlemen were Governor Keith and a Colonel French, of Newcastle.

Keimer, very naturally taking it for granted that their visit was intended for him, and that new custom was at hand, hastened down to admit them. however, inquired only for Benjamin ; and making his way up-stairs into the office, accosted the young printer with great courtesy, expressed his earnest desire to become acquainted with him, blamed him, with gracious condescension, for not having made himself known to him on his first arrival at Philadelphia, and insisted on his instantly accompanying himself and his friend Colonel French, to the tavern to which they were going,' “to taste some excellent Madeira."

At all this, Benjamin was himself “not a little surprised,” while Keimer “stared with astonishment.” After reaching the tavern, and as they were sitting over the wine, Governor Keith announced his proposal that Benjamin should open a printing-office and go into business as a printer, on his own account. He urged, with much zeal and plausibility, the reasons for calculating on success; and both Sir William and Colonel French pledged to him their whole interest and influence, to procure for him the public printing of the two governments of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

To carry such a plan into effect, however, Benjamin

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