|With Governor Keith's promise of support, the nineteen-year old
Franklin set sail for London with his close friend James Ralph, a
merchant's clerk who aspired to establish a literary career in
England. Unfortunately, Keith's lack of trustworthiness became
evident, and he did not provide Benjamin with any letters of
recommendation or funds. Consequently, the young printer, arriving
penniless and without any sources of credibility, made the best of
a bad situation. Finding work at Samuel Palmer's printing office
and lodging with Ralph, he managed to experience the spectacle and
many attractions of London-the theater, the taverns, the libraries,
and the brothels. Soon afterward, he forgot all about Deborah and
their future engagement. Taking advantage of the liberal nature of
his employer, he published a pamphlet refuting the tenets of The
Religion of Nature Delineated, by William Wollaston. Entitled
A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain,
the Franklin rejoinder argued that free will was nonexistent, for
everything in the world happened as it was fated to happen, thus
leaving no reason for men to act virtuously.
Franklin in London
The end of the reign of King George I brought upon an atmosphere of noisy merrymaking and overwhelming chaos in the great city of London. A series of violent brutalities, murders, and other immoralities swept the city, all to the fancy and delight of the English press. Newspapers such as the London Journal wildly exaggerated these public outrages, and those like Benjamin Franklin tasted the charm of this wonderful and colorful life. However, he did not approve of the cruelty and sights that were plaguing London. After a bitter dispute with James Ralph, concerning Ralph's mistress and a matter of money, Franklin and his companion parted ways. Benjamin, who was now destitute, left Palmer's printshop for employment at Watt's, who was an even more famous printer. By erasing the past incidents that had recently occurred, he gathered his moral strength and came to live on Duke Street with a Catholic widow who embraced his stocky figure as protection from the dangers of London.
The city of London
Meanwhile, Franklin was contemplating his future in England: should he remain in Europe and make his pay by teaching swimming or should he return to his homeland, the United States? His good friend and Quaker, the merchant Mr. Denham, suggested that Benjamin work for him in Pennsylvania as a clerk. The young and ambitious publisher, possessing limited funds and yearning to return to the colonies, graciously accepted and on July 2, 1726, he left London, England on board the Berkshire. Philadelphia was his destination, and success had become his motivation.