King of the Beggars - Chapter XIII

Chapter XIII

In Pennsylvania He Makes a Fine Quaker

            The first house he went to was a barber's, of whose assistance he had indeed need enough, not having shaved his beard since he left the ship: here he told a moving story, saying his name was John Elworth, of Bristol; that he had been artfully kidnapped by one Samuel Ball, of the same place, and gone through great hardships in making his escape. The good barber moved by his tale, willingly lent his assistance to take off his beard; during the operation, he entered into a good deal of chat, telling him his father was of Exeter; and, when he went away, gave him a half-crown bill, [Note: In Pennsylvania, and other parts of America, they make great use of paper money] and he recommended him to Mr. Wiggil, a Quaker of the same place. Here he told his moving story again, and got a ten-shilling bill from Mr. Wiggil, with recommendations to the rest of the Quakers of the place, among whom he got a great deal of money. When he took his leave, he was recommended by them to the Quakers of a town called Castile. Here he found a great deal of favour, and made the best of his way to Brandywine-Ferry, in which is room enough to lay up the whole royal navy of England; and from thence to Chester, so called, because the people who first settled there came for the most part from Cheshire. It contains above a hundred houses, and a very good road for shipping, the Delaware, on which it stands, being about three miles over. Here are a court-house and a prison. This place is also called Upland, and has a church dedicated to St. Paul, with a numerous congregation of those whom, exclusive of all other Christians, we call orthodox. Mr. Carew came here on Sunday, stayed all the night, and the next morning he enquired out one Mrs. Turner, a Quaker, who formerly lived at Embercomb, by Minehead, in Somersetshire; from her he got a bill, and a recommendation to some Quakers at Derby, about five miles further, where she told him he would find Mr. Whitfield. On hearing this, he set out for Derby; but, before he reached there, was overtaken by hundreds of people going to hear Mr. Whitfield preach. Friend, says he to one of them, where are you going so fast? Hast thou not heard, friend, says the other, the second Christ is come? He then joined them, and they all proceeded to Derby, where he found Mr. Whitfield preaching in an orchard, but could not get near enough to hear his discourse, by reason of the great concourse of people; however, he seemed to be affected with it, and strictly imitated the Quakers in all their sighs, groans, lifting up of the eyes, &c. Leaving them, he went to the sign of the ship, and enquiring where Mr. Whitfield lodged that night, was told at the justice's, who was a miller; he then asked if he could have a bed there that night, and being told that he might, he passed the evening very cheerfully.

            In the morning he asked for pen, ink, and paper, soon drew up a moving petition in the name of John Moore, the son of a clergyman, who had been taken on board the Tiger, Captain Matthews, and carried into the Havana, from whence he had got his redemption by means of the governor of Annapolis; that he was in the most deplorable circumstances, having nothing to help himself with, and hoped he would commiserate his condition. Having finished his petition, away he went to the miller's house, where Mr. Whitfield lodged, and found a hundred people waiting at the door to speak to that gentleman. Looking narrowly around, he espied a young lad, whom he found belonged to Mr. Whitfield, and going up to him very civilly, he begged he would do an unfortunate man the kindness to present that paper (giving him his petition) to Mr. Whitfield: and as soon as they perceived him, the Quakers pressed round him, one crying, Pray thee, friend, come and pray by my dear wife; and another, Pray thee, friend, come and see my dear brother. Mr. Whitfield made his way through them all, as well as he could, towards Mr. Carew, whom the young lad pointed out to him. When he came up to him, he kindly said that he was heartily sorry for his misfortunes, but that we were all liable to them, that they happened by the will of God, and therefore it was our duty to submit to them with patience and resignation; then, pulling out his pocket-book, he gave him three or four pounds of that county paper-money. Mr. Carew returned him thanks with all the marks of the most lively gratitude, and Mr. Whitfield wishing him well to England, went away singing psalms with those that were about him; and we make no doubt but Mr. Carew joined with them in the melody of the heart for the good success he had had with Mr. Whitfield.

            From hence Bampfylde was only seven miles to the city of Philadelphia, which is one of the finest in all America, and one of the best laid out cities in the world. It is the capital of Pennsylvania, and, were it full of houses and inhabitants, according to the proprietor's plan, it would be a capital fit for a great empire; yet it is a large city, considering its late foundation, most commodiously situated between two navigable rivers, the Delaware and Schuylkill. He designed the town in form of an oblong square, extending two miles in length from one river to the other. The long streets, eight in number, and two miles in length, he cut in right angles by others of one mile in length, and sixteen in number, all straight and spacious. He left proper spaces for markets, parades, quays, meeting-houses, schools, hospitals, and other public buildings. There are a great number of houses, and it increases every day in buildings, which are all carried on regularly, according to the first plan. The city has two fronts on the water, one on the east side facing to Schuylkill, and the other on the west, facing the Delaware, which is near two miles broad, and navigable three hundred miles, at least for small vessels. The eastern part is the most populous, on account of the Schuylkill, which is navigable eight hundred miles above the falls. We have observed, that each front of the street was to be two miles from river to river, as it was at first laid out; but one cannot suppose that it is finished in that manner. The streets that run against the Schuylkill are three quarters of a mile in length; the houses are stately, the wharfs and warehouses numerous and convenient. This city flourished so much at first, that there were near a hundred houses, great and small in it, in less than a year's time; and it has made answerable progress since that period; the number of houses, at this time, being about two thousand, and, generally speaking, better edifices than in the cities of England, a few excepted, and those only in a few streets. All the houses have large orchards and gardens belonging to them; the land on which the city stands is high and firm, and the convenience of covered docks and springs have very much contributed to the commerce of this place, where many rich merchants now reside, some of whom are so wealthy that they keep their coaches. Ships may ride in six or seven fathoms water, with a very good anchorage; the land about it is a dry wholesome level. All owners of one thousand acres and upwards have their houses in the two fronts, facing the rivers, and in the High-street, running from the middle of one front to the middle of the other. Every owner of one thousand acres has about an acre in front, and the smaller purchasers about half an acre in the back streets, by which means the least has room enough for a house-garden and small orchard. High-street is a hundred feet broad, so is Broad-street, which is in the middle of the city, running from north to south. In the centre is a square of ten acres, for the state-house, market-house, and school-house, as before hinted. The names of the streets here denote the several sorts of timber that are common in Pennsylvania, as Mulberry-street, Sassafras-street, Chesnut-street, Walnut-street, Beech-street, Ash-street, Vine-street, Cedar-street. There are also King-street, Broad-street, High-street. Their court-house is built of brick, and under it is a prison: several houses on the quay are worth four or five thousand pounds; and thirteen ships have been on the stocks at a time: some hundreds have been built there. The cellars and warehouses, on the quay, are made over the river three stories high. Here are two fairs in a year, and two markets in a week. It sends two members to the assembly.

            The inhabitants were at first mostly Quakers, and so they continue. It was some time before there was a church built after the manner of England; but as soon as one was built, it was called Christ-church. It had, in a few years, a very numerous congregation, and King William ordered an allowance of fifty-three pounds a-year to the minister; which, with voluntary contributions, made a very handsome provision for him. There are about twelve hundred of the inhabitants that are of this congregation, who have for some years had the benefit of the organ; and though it looked and sounded strange to the Quakers at first, yet they are now so far reconciled to it, as to bear with their neighbours having it without grumbling. There are, besides this, several meeting-houses; viz. for the Quakers, who are properly the church as by law established, being the originals; the Presbyterians, the Baptists, and a Spanish church.

            According to the plan, there is in each quarter of the city a square of eight acres, intended for the same uses as were Moorfields in London—walks and exercises for the citizens. The great dock is formed by an inlet of the river Delaware, at the south corner of the front of the wharfs, and has a bridge over it at the entrance: several creeks run into the city out of the two rivers; and there is no city in Holland that is so naturally accommodated with fine and commodious canals, as this might very easily be. The quay is beautiful, about two hundred feet square, to which a ship of five hundred tons may lay her broadside; and, as these surprising advantages have already rendered it one of the best trading towns in the British empire out of Europe, so in all probability it will continue to increase in commerce, riches, and buildings, till for number and magnificence it will have no equal in America; where the French have not, nor are likely to have, anything like it. Here are almost all sorts of trades and mechanics, as well as merchants and planters. Here the assemblies and courts of judicature are held, and the business of the province is chiefly managed, as in all capitals. Here are printing-houses, and several newspapers published. In a word, here are all things necessary for an Englishman's profit and pleasure.

            Mr. Carew, walking through the High-street, had a mind to refresh himself with a nip of punch; the first public house he chanced to come to was kept by an Irishman, and asking him if he sold punch, Yes, my dear honey, replied the man. Arrah, says Mr. Carew, are you my countryman, dear joy? quite in the Irish brogue. Yes, replied the man: What, do you belong to one of our vessels?—No, but I belong to Captain Dubois, of Dublin, who was taken off the Capes, and carried into the Havana.—Arrah, dear joy, I know Captain Dubois very well, replied the Irishman, come in. Accordingly in went Mr. Carew: the Irishman was so well pleased with his countryman, (for, giving a very particular account of many places in Ireland, and counterfeiting the brogue extremely well, he did not suspect him to be any other,) that he entertained him kindly, and they passed the day merrily together.

            The next morning his host takes him out to see the city: Mr. Carew did not content himself with idly gazing, as most of our modern travellers do; but diligently inquired the names of the principal merchants and places, and informed himself of all those circumstances, which could be of any service to him. At length, seeing a very fine house, he inquired whose it was; and being told Proprietor Penn's, who was just come from England with his brother-in-law, Captain Frame, he takes leave of his host, telling him he had a little business to transact, and would be at home presently, for he should be able to find his way back without his staying for him.—Having thus got rid of the Irishman, he claps his right hand into his coat, as if he had lost the use of it; and then, going up to the proprietor's, knocks at the door, which was opened to him by a negro, with a silver collar round his neck: he inquired if the proprietor lived there, and if he was at home: being told he was, Pray tell him, says he, that a poor man desires the favour of speaking with him. The negro then bid him come into the court: soon after, out came the proprietor, very plainly dressed, and his brother, Captain Frame, in his regimentals. The proprietor came up to him, inquiring who he was, and what he wanted with him: he replied he was a poor unfortunate man, who craved his honour's charitable assistance: that his name was John Dawkins, of the city of Exeter; and that he belonged to Captain Davis's ship of that place, who was taken near the Capes. Captain Frame, seeing him a lusty tall fellow, presently cries out, revenge! revenge! my brave boy! you shall go along with me, and fight the dogs! Mr. Carew replied with a sigh, that he should be glad to do that, but that, it was his misfortune, by the severities and hardships in prison, to have lost the use of his right arm by the dead palsy. This moved their compassion so much, that each of them gave him a guinea; the proprietor telling him he would take care to send him home with Captain Read, who would sail, very soon; then asking him if he had been at the governor's, and he replying in the negative, the proprietor told him he should go there, for he was a very good-natured man, and would assist him; then calling to the black, he bid him show the poor man to the governor's. As they were going along, he informed himself of the black what countryman the governor was; and being told a Welshman, and his name Thomas, he took care to make his advantage of it. When he came to the governor's and inquired for him, he was told he was walking in the garden; while he was waiting for his coming out, in came the proprietor and his brother; and, going into the garden, they represented his case to the governor, who, coming in, inquired where he was born, &c.; he told him, as he had before done the proprietor, and added, that he had married Betty Larkey, parson Griffy's maid, of Wales, and that the parson had a son at Bishop's Nympton, in Devon: the governor replied he knew the parson very well, and likewise Betty Larkey; and after he had asked him some questions about them, which Mr. Carew answered very readily, he gave him two guineas.

            In this manner did he apply to the most of the principal merchants of Philadelphia, always suiting some circumstances of his story in particular to the person he applied to; which he did, by diligently inquiring what places they came from in England, who were their friends and acquaintance, and the like, which he knew how to suit most to his purpose.

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