Vie de Franklin, écrite par lui-même - Tome I Suivie de ses œuvres morales, politiques et littéraires

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 35

parce que
quand il avoit trop bu, il étoit extrêmement contrariant.

Nous trouvant un jour dans un canot sur la Delaware, avec quelques
autres jeunes gens, il refusa de prendre l'aviron à son tour.--«Vous
ramerez pour moi, nous dit-il, jusqu'à ce que nous soyons à
terre».--«Non, lui répondis-je, nous ne ramerons point pour
vous».--«Vous le ferez, répliqua-t-il, ou vous resterez toute la nuit
sur l'eau».--«Comme il vous plaira, dis-je».--«Ramons, s'écrièrent les
autres. Qu'importe qu'il nous aide ou non»?--Mais j'étois déjà irrité de
sa conduite à d'autres égards; et j'insistai pour qu'on ne ramât point.

Alors il jura qu'il me feroit ramer, ou qu'il me jeteroit hors du canot;
et il se leva, en effet, pour venir vers moi. Aussitôt qu'il fut à ma
portée, je le pris au collet, et le poussant violemment, je le jetai la
tête la première dans la rivière. Je savois qu'il nageoit très-bien, et
par conséquent je ne craignois point pour sa vie. Avant qu'il pût se
retourner, nous eûmes le temps de donner quelques coups d'aviron, et de
nous éloigner un peu de lui. Toutes les fois qu'il se rapprochoit du
canot et le touchoit, nous lui demandions s'il vouloit ramer, et nous
lui donnions, en même-temps, quelques coups d'aviron sur les mains, afin
de lui faire lâcher prise. Prêt à suffoquer de colère, il refusoit
obstinément de promettre qu'il rameroit. Cependant, nous étant apperçus
qu'il commençoit à perdre ses forces, nous le mîmes dans le canot, et le
soir nous le conduisîmes encore tout trempé jusqu'à la maison.

Après cette aventure, nous vécûmes, lui et moi, dans la plus grande
froideur. Enfin, un capitaine qui naviguoit aux Antilles, et s'étoit
chargé de procurer un instituteur aux enfans d'un planteur de la
Barbade, fit la connoissance de Collins, et lui proposa cette place.
Collins l'accepta, et prit congé de moi, en me promettant de me faire
payer ce qu'il me devoit, avec le premier argent qu'il pourroit toucher:
mais je n'ai plus entendu parler de lui.

La violation du dépôt, que m'avoit confié Vernon, fut une des premières
grandes erreurs de ma vie. Elle prouve que mon père ne s'étoit point
trompé, quand il m'avoit cru trop jeune pour être chargé de conduire des
affaires importantes. Cependant sir William, en lisant sa lettre, jugea
qu'il étoit trop prudent. Il dit qu'il y avoit de la différence entre
les individus; que la maturité de l'âge n'étoit pas toujours accompagnée
de prudence; et que la jeunesse n'en restoit pas non plus toujours
dépourvue.--«Puisque votre père, ajouta-t-il, refuse de vous établir, je
veux le faire moi-même. Faites la liste des articles qu'il faut tirer
d'Angleterre, et

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