Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

that day; a journey which we now makė between breakfast and dinner, with considerable time for business in the interval. Verily, the world moves. But to return to our traveller's story.

“I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working-dress, my best clothes coming round by sea. I was dirty from my being so long in the boat. My pockets were stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no one, nor where to look for lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and the want of sleep, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and about a shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatmen for my passage. At first they refused it, on account of my having rowed, but I insisted on their taking it. Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money than when he has plenty ; perhaps to prevent his being thought to have but little.

“I walked towards the top of the street, gazing about till near Market Street, where I met a boy with bread. I had often made a meal of dry bread, and, inquiring where he had bought it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to. I asked for biscuits, meaning such as we had at Boston; that sort, it seems, was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none. Not knowing the different prices, nor the names of the different sorts of bread, I told

him to give me three penny-worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other.

“ Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father, when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street, and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market Street wharf, 'near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river-water, and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

“Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many cleanly-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and was thereby led into the great meetinghouse of the Quakers, near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round a while and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when some one was kind enough to arouse me. This, therefore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia."

There is nothing more simple, homely, and attractive in literature than Franklin's autobiographical account of the first period of his life, of which we have transcribed a portion, nor nothing more indicative of the great changes which time has produced in the conditions of this country, and which it produced in the life of our author. As for his journey from New York to Philadelphia, it presents, for the time involved, as great a series of adventures and hardships as does Stanley's recent journey through Central Africa. And as regards his own history, the contrast between the Franklin of 1723 and 1783 was as great as that which has come upon the city of his adoption. There is something amusingly ludicrous in the picture of the great Franklin, soiled with travel, a dollar in his pocket representing his entire wealth, walking up Market Street with two great rolls of bread under his arms and gnawing hungrily at a third; while his future wife peers from her door, and laughs to herself at this awkward youth, who looked as if he had never set foot on city street before.

We can hardly imagine this to be the Franklin who afterwards became the associate of the great and the admired of nations, who argued the cause of America before the assembled notables of England, who played a leading part in the formation of the Constitution of the United States, and to whom Philadelphia owes several of its most thriving and useful institutions. Millions of people have since poured into the City of Brotherly Love, but certainly no other journey thither has been nearly so momentous in its consequences as the humble ono above described.

[graphic][merged small]

PUBLIC LIBRARY

· ASTOR, LENOX TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

« AnteriorContinuar »