« ZurückWeiter »
already two printers in the place, Keimer and Bradford; but Dr. Baird (whom you and I saw many years after at his native place, St. Andrew's in Scotland) gave a contrary opinion; "For the industry of that Franklin," said he, "is superior to any thing I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbours are out of bed." This struck the rest, and we soon after had offers from one of them to supply us with stationery; but as yet we did not choose to engage in shop business.
I mention this industry more particularly and the more freely, though it seems to be talking in my own praise, that those of my posterity, who shall read it, may know the use of that virtue, when they see its effects in my favor throughout this relation.
George Webb, who had found a female friend that lent him wherewith to purchase his time of Keimer, now came to offer himself as a journeyman to us. We could not then employ him; but I foolishly let him know as a secret, that I soon intended to begin a newspaper, and might then have work for him. My hopes of success, as I told him, were founded on this; that the then only newspaper, printed by Bradford, was a paltry thing, wretchedly managed, no way entertaining, and yet was profitable to him; I therefore freely thought a good paper would scarcely fail of good encouragement. I requested Webb not to mention it; but he told it to Keimer, who immediately, to be beforehand with me, published proposals for one himself, on which Webb was to be employed. I was vexed at this; and, to counteract them, not being able to commence our paper, I wrote several amusing pieces for Bradford's paper, under the title of the BUSY BODY which Breintnal
continued some months.* By this means the attention of the public was fixed on that paper, and Keimer's proposals, which we burlesqued and ridiculed, were disregarded. He began his paper, however; and, before carrying it on three quarters of a year, with at most only ninety subscribers, he offered it me for a trifle; and I, having been ready some time to go on with it, took it in hand directly; and it proved in a few years extremely profitable to me.†
I perceive that I am apt to speak in the singular number, though our partnership still continued; it may be, that in fact the whole management of the business lay upon me. Meredith was no compositor, a poor pressman, and seldom sober. My friends lamented my connexion with him, but I was to make the best of it. Our first papers made quite a different appearance
* See Vol. II. p. 13-45.
It was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin and Meredith began the paper with No. 40, September 25th, 1729.
A characteristic anecdote has been related of Franklin, illustrative of his independence as an editor. Soon after the establishment of his newspaper, he found occasion to remark with some degree of freedom on the public conduct of one or two persons of high standing in Philadelphia. This course was disapproved by some of his patrons, who sought an opportunity to convey to him their views of the subject, and what they represented to be the opinion of his friends. He listened patiently, and replied by requesting that they would favor him with their company at supper, and bring with them the other gentlemen, who had expressed dissatisfaction. The time arrived, and the guests assembled. He received them cordially, and listened again to their friendly reproofs of his editorial conduct. At length supper was announced; but, when the guests had seated themselves around the table, they were surprised to see nothing before them but two puddings, made of coarse meal, called sawdust puddings in the common phrase, and a stone pitcher filled with water. He helped them all, and then applied himself to his own plate, partaking freely of the repast, and urging his friends to do the same. They taxed their politeness to the utmost, but all in vain; their appetites refused obedience to the will. Perceiving their difficulty, Franklin at last arose and said, "My friends, any one who can subsist upon sawdust pudding and water, as I can, needs no man's patronage." — EDITOR.
from any before in the province; a better type, and better printed; but some remarks of my writing, on the dispute then going on between Governor Burnet, and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal people, occasioned the paper and the manager of it to be much talked of, and in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers.
Their example was followed by many, and our number went on growing continually. This was one of the first good effects of my having learned a little to scribble; another was, that the leading men, seeing a newspaper now in the hands of those who could also handle a pen, thought it convenient to oblige and en
* These remarks are in the Pennsylvania Gazette for October 2d, 1729, and are as follows.
"His Excellency, Governor Burnet, died unexpectedly about two days after the date of this reply to his last message; and it was thought the dispute would have ended with him, or at least have lain dormant till the arrival of a new governor from England, who possibly might or might not be inclined to enter too vigorously into the measures of his predecessor. But our last advices by the post acquaint us, that his Honor, the Lieutenant-Governor, on whom the government immediately devolves upon the death or absence of the Commander-in-chief, has vigorously renewed the struggle on his own account, of which the particulars will be seen in our next.
"Perhaps some of our readers may not fully understand the original ground of this warm contest between the Governor and Assembly. It seems that people have for these hundred years past enjoyed the privilege of rewarding the governor for the time being, according to their sense of his merit and services; and few or none of their governors have complained, or had cause to complain, of a scanty allowance. When the late Governor Burnet brought with him instructions to demand a settled salary of one thousand pounds sterling per annum, on him and all his successors, and the Assembly were required to fix it immediately, he insisted on it strenuously to the last, and they as constantly refused it. It appears by their votes and proceedings, that they thought it an imposition, contrary to their own charter, and to Magna Charta; and they judged that there should be a mutual dependence between the governor and governed; and that to make the governor independent would be dangerous and destructive to their liberties, and the ready way to establish tyranny. They thought, likewise, that the province was not the less dependent on the crown of Great Britain, by the governor's depend
courage me. Bradford still printed the votes, and laws, and other public business. He had printed an address of the House to the Governor, in a coarse, blundering manner; we reprinted it elegantly and correctly, and sent one to every member. They were sensible of the difference, it strengthened the hands of our friends in the House, and they voted us their printers for the year ensuing.
Among my friends in the House, I must not forget Mr. Hamilton, before mentioned, who was then returned from England, and had a seat in it. He interested himself for me strongly in that instance, as he did in many others afterwards, continuing his patronage till his death.*
ing immediately on them and his own good conduct for an ample support; because all acts and laws, which he might be induced to pass, must nevertheless be constantly sent home for approbation in order to continue in force. Many other reasons were given, and arguments used, in the course of the controversy, needless to particularize here, because all the material papers relating to it have been already given in our public news.
"Much deserved praise has the deceased governor received for his steady integrity in adhering to his instructions, notwithstanding the great difficulty and opposition he met with, and the strong temptations offered from time to time to induce him to give up the point. And yet, perhaps, something is due to the Assembly, (as the love and zeal of that country for the present establishment is too well known to suffer any suspicion of want of loyalty,) who continue thus resolutely to abide by what they think their right, and that of the people they represent; maugre all the arts and menaces of a governor famed for his cunning and politics, backed with instructions from home, and powerfully aided by the great advantage such an officer always has of engaging the principal men of a place in his party, by conferring where he pleases so many posts of profit and honor. Their happy mother country will perhaps observe with pleasure, that though her gallant cocks and matchless dogs abate their natural fire and intrepidity, when transported to a foreign clime, (as this nation is,) yet her sons in the remotest part of the earth, and even to the third and fourth descent, still retain that ardent spirit of liberty, and that undaunted courage, which have in every age so gloriously distinguished BRITONS and ENGLISHMEN from the rest of mankind."-W. T. F.
I afterwards obtained for his son five hundred pounds.
Mr. Vernon, about this time, put me in mind of the debt I owed him, but did not press me. I wrote to him an ingenuous letter of acknowledgment, craving his forbearance a little longer, which he allowed me. As soon as I was able, I paid the principal with the interest, and many thanks; so that erratum was in some degree corrected.*
But now another difficulty came upon me, which I had never the least reason to expect. Mr. Meredith's father, who was to have paid for our printing-house, according to the expectations given me, was able to advance only one hundred pounds currency, which had been paid; and a hundred more were due to the merchant, who grew impatient and sued us all. We gave bail, but saw that, if the money could not be raised in time, the suit must soon come to a judgment and execution, and our hopeful prospects must, with us, be ruined; as the press and letters must be sold for payment, perhaps at half price.
In this distress two true friends, whose kindness I have never forgotten, nor ever shall forget while I can remember any thing, came to me separately, unknown to each other, and, without any application from me, offered each of them to advance me all the money that should be necessary to enable me to take the whole business upon myself, if that should be practicable; but they did not like my continuing the partnership with Meredith; who, as they said, was often seen drunk in the street, playing at low games in alehouses, much to our discredit. These two friends were William Cole
* Many years afterwards he had an opportunity of discharging more completely this debt of gratitude. While he was minister plenipotentiary from the United States at the court of France, he rendered very important services to a young man, a descendant of Mr. Vernon, who passed some time in that country. — EDITOR.