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with her for 2s. per week, she became generous in his favour, and abated her charge for his room to that sum. He never paid her more during the rest of his stay with her, which was the whole time he continued in London. In the attic was a maiden Catholic lady, by choice and habit a nun. She had been sent early in life to the Continent to take the veil; but the climate disagreeing with her health, she returned home; devoted her small estate to charitable purposes, with the exception of about 121. a year ; practised confession daily; and lived entirely on water-gruel. Her presence was thought a blessing to the house; and several of its tenants in succession had charged her no rent. Her room contained a mattress, table, crucifix, and stool, as its only furniture. She admitted the occasional visits of Franklin and her landlady; was cheerful, he says, and healthful: and while her superstition moved his compassion, he felt confirmed in his frugality by her example, and exhibits it in his journal as another proof of the possibility of supporting life, health, and cheerfulness, on very small means.
During the first weeks of his engagement with Mr Watts, he worked as a pressman, drinking only water, while his companions had their five pints of porter each per day; and his strength was superior to their's. He ridiculed the verbal logic of strong beer being necessary for strong work; contending that the strength yielded by malt-liquor could only be in proportion to the quantity of flour or actual grain dissolved in the liquor, and that a penny-worth of bread must have more of this than a pot of porter. The Water-American, as he was called, had some converts to his system; his example, in this case, being clearly better than his philosophy*.
# For while the mucilaginous qualities of porter may form one criterion of the nourishment it yields, it does not follow that mere rourishment is or ought to be the only consideration in a labouring man's use of malt-liquor or any other aliment. It is well known that Aesh-meats yield chyle in greater abundance than any production of the vegetable kingdom ; but Franklin would not have considered this any argument for living wholly upon meat. The fact is, that the stimulating quality of all fermented liquors (when moderately taken) is an essential part of the refreshment, and therefore of the strength they yield.
We curse not wine-the vile excess we blanje."
Franklin was born to be a revolutionist, in many good senses of the word. He now proposed and carried several alterations in the so-called chapel-laws of the printing office; resisted what he thought the impositions, while he conciliated the respect, of his fellow-workmen; and always had cash and credit in the neighbourhood at command, to which the sottish part of his brethren were occasionally, and sometimes largely, indebted. He thus depicts this part of his prosperous life :-" On my entrance, I worked at first as a pressman, conceiving that I had need of bodily exercise, to which I had been accustomed in America, where the printers work alternately as compositors and at the press. I drank nothing but water. The other workmen, to the number of about fifty, were great drinkers of beer. I carried occasionally a large form of letters in each hand, up and down stairs, while the rest employed both hands to carry one. They were surprised to see, by this and many other examples, that the American Aquatic, as they used to call me, was stronger than those that drank porter. The beer-boy had sufficient employment during the whole day in serving that house alone. My fellowpressman drank every day a pint of beer before breakfast, a pint with bread and cheese for breakfast, one between breakfast and dinner, one at dinner, one again about six o'clock in the afternoon, and another after he had finished his day's work. This custom appeared to me abominable ; but he had need, he said, of all this beer, in order to acquire strength to work.
“ I endeavoured to convince him, that the bodily strength furnished by the beer could only be in proportion to the solid part of the barley dissolved in the water of which the beer was composed; that there was a larger portion of flour in a penny loaf, and that, consequently, if he ate this loaf, and drank a pint of water with it, he would derive more strength from it than from a pint of beer. This reasoning however did not prevent him from drinking his accustomed quantity of beer, and paying every Saturday night a
score of four or five shillings a week for this cursed beverage ; an expence from which I was wholly exempt. Thus do these poor devils continue all their lives in a state of voluntary wretchedness and poverty. -“My example prevailed with several of them to renounce their abominable practice of bread and cheese with beer; and they procured, like me, from a neighbouring house, a good basin of warm gruel, in which was a small slice of butter, with toasted bread and nutmeg. This was a much better breakfast, which did not cost more than a pint of beer, namely, threehalfpence, and at the same time preserved the head clearer.-Those who continued to gorge themselves with beer, often lost their credit with the publican, from neglecting to pay their score. They had then recourse to me to become security for them, their light, as they used to call it, being out. I attended at the pay-table every Saturday evening, to take up the little sums which I had made myself answerable for, and which sometimes amounted to near thirty shillings a week. .“ This circumstance, added to my reputation of being a tolerable good gabber, or, in other words, skilful in the art of burlesque, kept up my importance in the chapel. I had, besides, recommended myself to the esteem of my master by my assiduous application to business, never observing Saint Monday. My extraordinary quickness in composing always procured me such work as was most urgent, and which is commonly best paid; and thus my time passed away in a very pleasant manner.”
Franklin, from boyhood, was a capital swimmer. He had studied and practised Thevenot's doctrines; and displayed, during his stay in London, that agility on the Thames which procured him great admiration. Returning one day with a party from Chelsea, he swam the greater part of the way from that place to Blackfriars bridge, displaying aquatic feats at which the spectators were astonished, and in which it appears he had few equals.
He frequently used a kite, when a boy, as a sort of sail for the human body. Swimming he calls a kind of rowing with the arms and legs ; and the addition of a sail, as he terms it, was suggested by his approaching a pond, while flying a kite on a summer's day. " I tied,” he says, “ the string to a stake, and the kite ascended to a considerable height above the pond, while I was swimming. In a little time, being desirous of amusing myself with my kite, and of enjoying at the same time the pleasure of swimming, I returned, and loosing from the stake the string with the little stick which was fastened to it, went again into the water, where I found that, lying on my back, and holding the stick in my hands, I was drawn along the surface of the water in a very agreeable manner. Having then engaged another boy to carry my clothes round the pond to a place which I pointed out to him on the other side, I began to cross the pond with my kite, which carried me quite over without the least fatigue, and with the greatest pleasure imaginable. I was only obliged occasionally to halt a little in my course, and resist its progress, when it appeared that by following too quickly I lowered the kite too much; by doing which occasionally, I made it rise again. I have never since that time practised this singular mode of swimming, though I think it not impossible to cross in this manner from Dover to Calais. The packet-boat however is still preferable."
Sir William Wyndham sent for him, in consequence of his fame in this art, to teach his sons to swim, and proposed a handsome remuneration to him for his trouble : so that Franklin conceived, had he remained in England, he might have opened a swimming school with very good prospects of success. '“ Had the overture,” he says, “ been made earlier by sir William, and when he was less disposed than he now was to return to America, he would certainly have accepted it, and attempted some public establishment of the kind.”
He also, about this time, entertained a proposal from a very intelligent and well-educated fellow
workman to travel over Europe with him, working by the way. But his good friend Denham, whom he frequently consulted, was against this project, and soon induced him to relinquish his present engagement, and prepare for returning to his native country.
Denham had come over to Europe to purchase goods for a general store in Philadelphia, in which he had of late been very successful. Admiring Franklin's industrious and frugal turn, he now invited him to become his assistant in arranging and packing the goods, and to engage with him afterwards as a superior clerk; promising that, as soon as he should be qualified for the adventure, he would commission him with a cargo of provisions for the West Indies, obtain him certain custom among his friends, and concern himself in his future establishment in a mercantile way. He was to have 501. per annum at the commencement of the engagement; less, he says, than he now earned; but the better future prospects it offered, and the cheerful thoughts of returning home, induced him to close with it.
Franklin gives one trait of this amiable man's character, which must have inspired him with a high sense of his honour. Some years previous to his present appearance in England, he had failed in business at Bristol, and compounded with his creditors. On his return at this time in better circumstances, he invited all of them to an entertainment, which they considered only as a tribute of respect; but on the first remove of the plates, each creditor found upon the table an order on a banker for the payment of the balance originally due to him, with interest to the day.
Franklin passed about eighteen months in London, working hard at his business, improving his knowledge, and extending his acquaintance. But his friend Ralph, his book purchases, and occasionally frequenting the theatre, kept him poor. Twentyseven pounds out of his earnings went in the first item alone ; his fellow-adventurer however seeins