The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin/Section Twelve

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Section Twelve[edit]

My Inclinations for the Sea, were by this time worn out, or I might now have gratify’d them. But having a Trade, & supposing myself a pretty good Workman, I offer’d my Service to the Printer of the Place, old Mr Wm. Bradford, (who had been the first Printer in Pennsylvania, but remov’d from thence upon the Quarrel of Geo. Keith). He could give me no Employment, having little to do, and Help enough already: But, says he, my Son at Philadelphia has lately lost his principal Hand, Aquila Rose, by Death. If you go thither I believe he may employ you. Philadelphia was 100 Miles farther. I set out, however, in a Boat for Amboy, leaving my Chest and Things to follow me round by Sea. In crossing the Bay we met with a Squall that tore our rotten Sails to pieces, prevented our getting into the Kill, and drove us upon Long Island. In our Way a drunken Dutchman, who was a Passenger too, fell over board; when he was sinking I reach’d thro’ the Water to his shock Pate & drew him up so that we got him in again. His Ducking sober’d him a little, & he went to sleep, taking first out of his Pocket a Book which he desir’d I would dry for him. It prov’d to be my old favorite Author Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in Dutch, finely printed on good Paper with copper Cuts, a Dress better than I had ever seen it wear in its own Language. I have since found that it has been translated into most of the Language of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other Book except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first thatI know of who mix’d Narration & Dialogue, a Method of Writing very engaging to the Reader, who in the most interesting Parts finds himself as it were brought into the Company, & present at the Discourse. Defoe in his Crusoe, his Moll Flanders, Religious Courtship, Family Instructor, & other Pieces, has imitated it with Success. And Richardson has done the same in his Pamela, &c.

When we drew near the Island we found it was at a Place where there could be no Landing, there being a great Surf on the stony Beach. So we dropped Anchor & swung round towards the Shore. Some People came down to the Water Edge & hallow’d to us, as we did to them. But the Wind was so high & the Surf so loud, that we could not hear so as to understand each other. There were Canoes on the Shore, & we made Signs & hallow’d that they should fetch us, but they either did not understand us, or thought it impracticable. So they went away, and Night coming on, we had no Remedy but to wait till the Wind should abate, and in the mean time the Boatman & I concluded to sleep if we could, and so crowded into the Scuttle with the Dutchman who was still wet, and the Spray beating over the Head of our Boat, leak’d thro’ to us, so that we were soon almost as wet as he. In this Manner we lay all Night with very little Rest. But the Wind abating the next Day, we made a Shift to reach Amboy before Night, having been 30 Hours on the Water without Victuals, or any Drink but a Bottle of filthy Rum: The Water we sail’d on being salt.