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At length, a fresh difference arising between my brother and me, I took upon me to assert my freedom; presuming that he would not venture to produce the new indentures. It was not fair in me to take this advantage, and this I therefore reckon one of the first errata of my life; but the unfairness of it weighed little with me when under the impressions of resentment for the blows his passion too often urged him to bestow upon me. Though he was otherwise not an ill natured man; perhaps I was too saucy and provoking.
When he found I would leave him, he took care to prevent my getting employment in any other printinghouse of the town, by going round and speaking to every master, who accordingly refused to give me work.
great freedom the vices and follies of the time. The weapon of satire was used with an unsparing hand. Neither the government nor the clergy escaped. Much caution was practised, however, in regard to individuals, and names were seldom introduced. There are some severe and humorous criticisms on the poets of the day, which may be classed with the best specimens of this kind of composition in the modern reviews. The humor sometimes degenerates into coarseness, and the phraseology is often harsh; but, bating these faults, the paper contains nothing, which in later times would have been deemed reprehensible. James Franklin, the editor and printer, was imprisoned on the general charge of having published passages "boldly reflecting on his Majesty's government and on the administration in this province, the ministry, churches, and college; and that tend to fill the readers' minds with vanity, to the dishonor of God and the disservice of good men." He was sentenced by a vote of the Assembly, without any specification of these offensive passages, or any trial before a court of justice.
This was probably the first transaction, in the American Colonies, relating to the freedom of the press; and it is not less remarkable for the assumption of power on the part of the legislature, than for their disregard of the first principles and established forms of law.
No change took place in the character of the paper, and six months afterwards, January, 1723, he was again arraigned upon a similar charge. The resentment of the ruling powers, stimulated by the clergy, had been gaining heat during the whole time, and now pushed them to more arbitrary measures. They condescended, however, to specify a particular article, as affording the ground of their proceedings. This was an essay on Hypocrisy, in which hypocrites of various descriptions were roughly
I then thought of going to New York, as the nearest place where there was a printer. And I was rather inclined to leave Boston, when I reflected, that I had already made myself a little obnoxious to the governing party, and, from the arbitrary proceedings of the Assembly in my brother's case, it was likely I might, if I stayed, soon bring myself into scrapes; and further, that my indiscreet disputations about religion began to make me pointed at with horror by good people, as an infidel and atheist. I concluded, therefore, to remove to New York; but my father now siding with my brother, I was sensible, that, if I attempted to go openly, means would be used to prevent me. My friend Collins, therefore, undertook to manage my flight. He agreed
handled, but no individual or class of men was mentioned. The most objectionable paragraphs in this essay are the following.
Religion is indeed the principal thing, but too much of it is worse than none at all. The world abounds with knaves and villains; but, of all knaves, the religious knave is the worst, and villanies acted under the cloak of religion the most execrable. Moral honesty, though it will not itself carry a man to heaven, yet I am sure there is no going thither without it."
"But are there such men as these in thee, O New England? Heaven forbid there should be any; but, alas, it is to be feared the number is not small. Give me an honest man,' say some, 'for all a religious man;' a distinction which I confess I never heard of before. The whole country suffers for the villanies of a few such wolves in sheep's clothing, and we are all represented as a pack of knaves and hypocrites for their sakes."
Sentiments like these were thought worthy of the high condemnation of the legislative Assembly, and the printer was again censured, without being tried by a judicial tribunal, and forbidden to publish any paper, or pamphlet, the contents of which had not been previously examined and approved by the Secretary of the province. The following comment on this act, contained in the Philadelphia Mercury, of February 26th, 1723, shows the indignation with which it was received in other parts of the country.
"My Lord Coke observes, that, to punish first, and then inquire, the law abhors; but here, Mr. Franklin has a severe sentence passed upon him, even to the taking away part of his livelihood, without being called to make an answer. An indifferent person would judge by this vote against
with the captain of a New York sloop to take me, under pretence of my being a young man of his acquaintance, that had an intrigue with a girl of bad character, whose parents would compel me to marry her, and that I could neither appear or come away publicly. I sold my books to raise a little money, was taken on board the sloop privately, had a fair wind, and in three days found myself at New York, near three hundred miles from my home, at the age of seventeen, (October, 1723), without the least recommendation, or knowledge of any person in the place, and very little money in my pocket.
Couranto, that the Assembly of the province of Massachusetts Bay are made up of oppressors and bigots, who make religion the only engine of destruction to the people; and the rather, because the first letter in the Courant, of the 14th of January, which the Assembly censures, so naturally represents and exposes the hypocritical pretenders to religion. Indeed, the most famous politicians of that government (as the infamous Governor D-y and his family) have ever been remarkable for hypocrisy. And it is the general opinion, that some of their rulers are raised up and continued as a scourge in the hands of the Almighty for the sins of the people. Thus much we could not forbear saying, out of compassion to the distressed people of the province, who must now resign all pretences to sense and reason, and submit to the tyranny of priestcraft and hypocrisy.
"P. S. By private letters from Boston we are informed, that the bakers were under great apprehensions of being forbid baking any more bread, unless they will submit it to the Secretary, as supervisor-general and weigher of the dough, before it is baked into bread and offered to sale."
After this sentence, James Franklin ceased to affix his name to the New England Courant. In the number, dated February 11th, he said, "The late publisher of this paper, finding so many inconveniences would arise, by his carrying the manuscripts and the public news to be supervised by the Secretary, as to render his carrying it on unprofitable, has entirely dropped the undertaking." From this time the paper was published in the name of Benjamin Franklin; and although he remained in Boston only eight months afterwards, yet his name was continued as publisher for several years, and probably till the paper came to an end, in 1727. James Franklin removed soon after to Newport, where he established the Rhode Island Gazette, September, 1732. He died in February, 1735. — Editor.
Journey to Philadelphia. — Adventure in a Boat. Dr. Brown. - Burlington. His first Appearance in Philadelphia. — Quaker Meeting. Seeks for Employment as a Printer.- Commences Work in Keimer's Office. Forms Acquaintances. - Patronized by Sir William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania. — First Interview with him. - Keith proposes to set him up in Business. Returns to Boston. - His Father disapproves Keith's Plan.-Voyage to New York. - Incident on the Passage from Newport. Meets his Friend Collins in New York. — They go together to Philadelphia. - Collins's ill Conduct causes a Separation. Keith insists on executing his original Plan, and proposes sending him to London to purchase Types. — Returns to the Use of animal Food. - Anecdotes of Keimer. His Associates, Osborne, Watson, Ralph. Their Exercises in Composition. Resolves to visit England, as advised by Governor Keith.
THE inclination I had had for the sea was by this time done away, or I might now have gratified it. But having another profession, and conceiving myself a pretty good workman, I offered my services to a printer of the place, old Mr. William Bradford, who had been the first printer in Pennsylvania, but had removed thence, in consequence of a quarrel with the governor, George Keith. He could give me no employment, having little to do, and hands enough already; but he said, "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 one hundred miles further; 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 overboard; when he was sinking, I reached through
the water to his shock pate, and drew him up, so that we got him in again. His ducking sobered him a little, and he went to sleep, taking first out of his pocket a book, which he desired I would dry for him. It proved to be my old favorite author, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, in Dutch, finely printed on good paper, 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 languages of Europe, and suppose it has been more generally read than any other book, except perhaps the Bible. Honest John was the first that I know of, who mixed narration and dialogue; a method of writing very engaging to the reader, who in the most interesting parts finds himself, as it were, admitted into the company and present at the conversation. Defoe has imitated him successfully in his Robinson Crusoe, in his Moll Flanders, and other pieces; and Richardson has done the same in his Pamela, &c.
On approaching the island, we found it was in a place where there could be no landing, there being a great surge on the stony beach. So we dropped anchor, and swung out our cable towards the shore. Some people came down to the shore, and hallooed to us, as we did to them; but the wind was so high, and the surge so loud, that we could not understand each other. There were some small boats near the shore, and we made signs, and called to them to fetch us; but they either did not comprehend us, or it was impracticable, so they went off. Night approaching, we had no remedy but to have patience till the wind abated; and in the mean time the boatman and myself concluded to sleep, if we could; and so we crowded into the hatches where we joined the Dutchman, who was still wet, and the spray, breaking over the head of