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at an inn, eight or ten miles from Burlington, that was kept by one Dr. Brown...
This man entered into conversation with me while I took some refreshment, and, perceiving that I had read a little, he expressed towards me considerable interest and friendship. Our acqaintance continued during the remainder of his life. I believe him to have been what is called an itinerant doctor; for there was no town in England, or indeed in Europe, of which he could not giye a particular account.
I spent the night at his house, and reached Burlington the next morning. On my arrival, I had the mortification to learn that the ordinary passage-boats had sailed a little before. This was on a Saturday, and there would be no other boat till the Tuesday following. I returned to the house of an old woman in the town, who had sold me some gingerbread to eat on my passage, and I asked her advice. She invited me to take up my abode with her till an opportunity offered for me to embark. Fatigued with having travelled so far on foot, I accepted her invitation. When she understood that I was a printer, she would have persuaded me to stay at Burlington, and set up my trade; but she was little aware of the capital that would be necessary for such a purchase! I was treated while at her house with true hospitality. She gave me, with the utmost good will, a dinner of beef-steaks and would accept of nothing in return but a pint of ale.
Here I imagined myself to be fixed till the Tuesday in the ensuing week; but walking out in the evening by the river side, I saw a boat with a number of persons in it approach. It was going to Philadelphia, and the company took me in. As there was no wind, we could only make way with our oars. About midnight, not perceiving the town, some of the company were, of opinion that
we must have passed it, and were unwilling to row any farther; the rest not knowing where we were, it was resolved that we should stop. We drew towards the shore, entered a creek, and landed near some old palisades, which served us for fire-wood, it being a cold night in October. Here we staid till day, when one of the company found the place, in which we were, to be Cooper's Creek, a little above Philadelphia; which in reality we perceived the moment we were out of the creek. We arrived on Sunday, about eight or nine o'clock in the morning, and landed on Market-street wharf.
I have entered into the particulars of my voyage, and shall in like manner describe my first entrance into this city, that you may be able to compare beginnings so little auspicious, with the figure I have since made.
On my arrival at Philadelphia I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come by sea. I was covered with dirt; my pockets were filled with shirts and stockings; I was unacquainted with a single soul in the place, and knew not where to seek for a lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and having passed the night without sleep, I was extremely hungry, and all my money consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling's worth of coppers, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. As I had assisted them in rowing, they refused it at first; but I insisted on their ta.king it. A man is sometimes more generous when he has little, than when he has much money; probably because, in the first case, he is desirous of concealing his poverty.
I walked towards the top of the street, looking cagerly on both sides, till I came to Market-street, where I met a child with a loaf of bread. Often had I made my dinner on dry bread. I enquired where he had bought it, and went straight to the baker's shop which he had pointed out to me. I
asked for some biscuits, expecting to find such as we had at Boston ; but they made, it seems, none of that sort in Philadelphia. I then asked for a three-penny loaf. They made no loaves of that price. Finding myself ignorant of the prices as well as of the different kinds of bread, I desired him to let me have three penny worth of bread of some kind or other. He gave me three large rolls. I was surprised at receiving so much; I took them, however, and having no room in my pockets, I walked on with a roll under each arm, eating the third. In this manner I went through Market street to fourth street, and passed the house of Mr. Read, the father of my future wife. She was standing at the door, observed me, and thought with reason, that I made a very singular and grotesque appearance.
I then turned the corner, and went through Chesnut street, eating my roll all the way ; and having made this round, I found myself again on Market street wharf, near the boat in which I had arrived. I stepped into it to take a draught of river water, and finding myself satisfied with my first roll, I gave the other two to a woman and her child, who had come down the river with us in the boat, and was waiting to continue her journey. Thus refreshed, I regained the street, which was now full of well dressed people, all going the same way. I joined them, and was thus led to a large Quaker's meeting house, near the market place. I sat down with the rest, and after looking round me for some time, hearing nothing said, and being drowsy from my last night's labour and want of rest, I fell into a sound sleep. In this state I continued till the assembly dispersed, when one of the congregation had the goodness to wake me. This was, consequently, the first house I entered, or in which I slept at Philadelphia.
I began again to walk along the streets by the
naver side, and looking attentively in the face of every one I met, I at length perceived a young Quaker, whose countenance pleased me. I accosted him, and begged him to inform me where a stranger might find a lodging. We were then near the sign of the · Three Mariners. They receive travellers here, said he, but it is not a house that bears a good character; if you will go with me I will shew you a better one. He conducted me to the Crooked Billet, in Water street. There I ordered something for dinner, and during my meal, a number of curious questions were put to me; my youth and appearance exciting the suspicion of my being a runaway. After dinner my drowsiness returned, and I threw myself upon a bed without taking off my clothes, and I slept till six in the evening, when I was called to supper. I afterwards went to bed at a very early hour, and did not wake till the next morning.
As soon as I got up, I put myself in as decent a a trim as I could, and went to the house of Andrew Bradford, the printer. I found his father in the shop, whom I had seen at New York. Having travelled on horseback, he had arrived at Philadelphia before me. He introduced me to his son, who received me with civility, and gave me some breakfast; but he told me he had no occasion for a journeyman, having lately procured one. He added, that there was another printer newly settled in the town, of the name of Keimer, who might perhaps employ me; and in case of a refusal, I should be welcome to lodge at his house, and he would give me a little work now, and then, till something better should offer.
The old man offered to introduce me to the new printer. When we were at his house, “ neighbour, said he, I bring you a young man in the printing business, perhaps you may have need of his service3.” Keiiner asked me some questions, put a
composing stick in my hand to see how I could work, and then said, that at present he had nothing for me to do, but that he should soon be able to employ me. At the same time taking old Bradford for an inhabitant of the town well disposed towards him, he communicated his project to him, and the prospect he had of success. Bradford was careful not to discover that he was the father of the other printer ; and from what Keimer had said, that he hoped shortly to be in possession of the greater part of the business of the town, led him by artful questions, and by starting some difficulties, to disclose all his views, what his hopes were found. ed upon, and how he intended to proceed. I was present and heard it all. I instantly saw that one of the two was a cunning old fox, and the other a perfect novice. Bradford left me with Keimer, who was strangely surprised when I informed him who the old man was.
I found Keimer's printing materials to consist of an old damaged press, and a small font of wornout English letters, with which he was himself at work upon an elegy on Aquila Rose, whom I have mentioned above, an ingenious young man, and of an excellent character, highly esteemed in the town, secretary to the assembly, and a very tolerable poet. Keimer also made verses, but they were indifferent ones. He could not be said to write in · verse, for his method was, to take and set the lines as they flowed from his muse; and, as he worked without copy, had but one set of letter cases, and the elegy would probably occupy all his type, it was impossible for any one to assist him. I endeavoured to put his press in order, which he had not yet used, and of which indeed he understood nothing; and having promised to come and work off his elegy as soon as it should be ready, I returned to the house of Bradford, who gave me some trifle to do for the present, for which I had my board and lodging.