The Story of Benjamin Franklin

by James Baldwin

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Chapter X: The First Visit to England

At last the Annis was ready to sail.

Governor Keith had promised to give to young Franklin letters of introduction to some of his friends in England.

He had also promised to give him money to buy his presses and type.

But when Franklin called at the governor's house to bid him good-bye, and to get the letters, the governor was too busy to see him. He said that he would send the letters and the money to him on shipboard.

The ship sailed.

But no letters, nor any word from Governor Keith, had been sent to Franklin. When he at last arrived in London he found himself without money and without friends.

Governor Keith had given him nothing but promises. He would never give him anything more. He was a man whose word was not to be depended upon.

Franklin was then just eighteen years old. He must now depend wholly upon himself. He must make his own way in the world, without aid from anyone.

He went out at once to look for work. He found employment in a printing-office, and there he stayed for nearly a year.

Franklin made many acquaintances with literary people while he was in London. He proved himself to be a young man of talent and ingenuity. He was never idle.

His companions in the printing-office were beer-drinkers and sots. He often told them how foolish they were to spend their money and ruin themselves for drink.

He drank nothing but water. He was strong and active. He could carry more, and do more work, than any of them.

He persuaded many of them to leave off drinking, and to lead better lives.

Franklin was also a fine swimmer. There was no one in London who could swim as well. He wrote two essays on swimming, and made some plans for opening a swimming school.

When he had been in London about a year, he met a Mr. Denham, a merchant of Philadelphia, and a strong friendship sprang up between them.

Mr. Denham at last persuaded Franklin to return to Philadelphia, and be a clerk in his dry-goods store.

And so, on the 23rd of the next July, he set sail for home. The ship was nearly three months in making the voyage, and it was not until October that he again set foot in Philadelphia.


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