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Accademical Learning, (which I pretend not to, the more my unhappiness, and too late to say, O mihi præteritos referat si Jupiter Annos) and better qualified to perform a work of this Nature, for want whereof out of a design for publick good made me at first at the Sollicitation of several Gentlemen, Merchants and Others, come into it, according to the Proverb, thinking that half a Loafe was better than no Bread ; often wishing and desiring in Print that such a one would undertake it, and then no one should sooner come into it and pay more Yearly to carry it on than this Publisher, and none appearing then, nor since, (others being judges) to excell him in their performances, made him to continue. And our New Publisher being a Scholler and Master, he should (me thinks) have given us (whom he terms low, flat and dull) Admonition and told one and the other wherein our Dulness lay, (that we might be better Proficients for the future, Whither in reading, hearing, or pains taking, to write, gather, collect and insert the Publick Occurrences) before publick Censure, and a good example to copy and write after, and not tell us and the World at his first setting out, that he'l be like us in doing as we have done, Turpe est Doctori cum culpa redarguit ipsum. And now all my Latin being spent excepting what I design always to remember, Nemo sine crimine vivit, I promise for my part so soon as he or any Scholler will Undertake my hitherto Task, and Endeavours, giving proof that he will not be very, very Dull, I shall not only desist for his advantage, but also so far as capable Assist such a good Scribe."
I have a file of the New England Courant for the first two years of its publication, with the exception of the first sixteen numbers, which are wanting. I cannot, therefore, give Franklin's reply to Campbell; but the spirit of it is to be discovered from Campbell's rejoinder, published in the News Letter, August 28, 1721, viz.:
to J. C. to Jack Dullman' sendeth, Greeting.
“Sir, What you call a Satyrical Advertisement was a just Vindication of my News Letter, from some unfair Reflections, in your introduction to your first Courant. Your reply in hobling Verse, had they more Reason and less Railing might possibly have inclined me to think you was some Man of great Learning, or as you please to Word it, a Meikle Man; but Railery is the talent of a mean Spirit, and not to be returned by me. In honour to the Muses I dare not acknowledge your Poem to be from Parnassus; but as a little before the Composure you had been Rakeing in the Dunghill, its more probable the corrupt Steams got into your Brains, and your Dullcold Skul precipitate them_into Ribaldry. I observe you are not always the same, your History of Inoculation intends the Publick Good, but Letter to Mr. Compton and Rhyme to me smell more of the Ale Tub than the Lamp. I do not envy your skill in Anatomy, and your accurate discovery of the Gall Bladder, nor your Geography of the Dunghill (natale solum.) You say your Ale grows better, but have a care you do not Bottle it too New, lest the Bottles fly and wet your Toyes. You say you are the Wiseman, and his Advice is, Prov. xxvi. Ver. 4. Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him. And not very disagreeable to what I learned when a School Boy. “ Contra verbosos, noli contendere verbis.
Against a man of wind spend not thy Breath. Therefore I conclude with Verbum Sapienti,
“Tutius est, igitur fictis contendere verbis, " Quam pugnare manu.
Vale. “ Since like the Indian Natives, you Delight, to murder in the dark, eshun and fly the light,
1 This nickname appears to have been given to Franklin by Campbell, as a retort for calling the News-Letter“ dull, very dull."
* The Courant strongly opposed inoculating for the small pox, which at that time began to be introduced.
This rivalship produced a whole sheet weekly from Campbell for about two months, after which the NewsLetter, like the Gazette and Courant, was reduced to a half sheet weekly.
In January, 1722, Campbell announced in his usual manner his intention to continue the News-Letter another year; but before the close of it, he resigned his right to his printer, Bartholomew Green. Campbell had published this paper eighteen years; and, during that period, had met with many difficulties, and received but little encouragement. The undertaking could not have been attended
. with profit; for the expense of paper, printing, and European publications from which he selected information, must have swallowed up the proceeds from his small number of subscribers.
“Published by Authority,” had been omitted in the title of the News-Letter for two years before Campbell resigned it, but was resumed when Green began to print it on his own account; and the day of its publication was changed from Monday to Thursday.
When Green became the proprietor of the News-Letter, great difference of opinion existed in the colony respecting the concerns of church and state, as well as concerning matters of a more local nature, and the spirit of party ran high. A writer of that day observes, “ The press has long groaned in bringing forth an hateful but numerous brood of party pamphlets, malicious scribbles, and Billingsgate ribaldry, which have produced rancor and bitterness, and unhappily soured and leavened the tempers of persons formerly esteemed some of the most sweet and amiable.'
Green appeared to possess a disposition to publish an impartial and chaste paper, and in conformity to this inclination, he inserted in the News-Letter March 7, 1723, the following address to the public.
· Courant. No. 30, February 11, 1723.
The Design of this Paper is not merely to amuse the Reader; much less to Gratify any Ill Tempers by Reproach or Redicule, to Promote Contention, or Espouse any Party among us. The Publisher on the contrary, laments our Dangerous and unhappy Divisions; and he would always approve himself as a Peaceable Friend and Servant to all, and unkind to none; nor would he ever render Evil for Evil, either by action, speaking or writing. He longs for the Blissful Times when Wars shall cease to the Ends of the Earth. He would rather Endeavour his utmost to advance an universal Concord and Harmony; were it not for fear of adding Oyl to the Flames, and he Remembers the Fable which shows him the Danger of Interceding between Fierce and Contending Enemies. The Publisher would therefore strive to oblige all his Readers by Publishing those Transactions only, that have no Relation to any of our Quarrels, and may be equally entertaining to the greatest Adversaries. For this end, he Proposes to extend his paper to the History of Nature among us, as well as of Political and Foreign Affairs. And agreeable to this Design, he Desires of all Ingenious Gentlemen, in every part of the Country, to communicate the Remarkable Things they observe; and he Desires them to send their Accounts Post-Free, and nothing but what they assuredly know; and they shall be very gratefully Receiv’d and Publish'd : That so this Paper may, in some Degree, serve for the Philosophical Transactions of New England, as well as for a Political History; and the Things worthy of Recording in this as well as in other Parts of the World, may not proceed to sink into eternal Oblivion as they have done in all the past Ages of the Aboriginal and Ancient Inhabitants.”
In 1725, “Published by Authority,” again disappeared from the title of the News-Letter. Green continued its publication without any thing particular attending it, until
the last week of December 1726, No. 1196. The week following he altered its title to The Weekly News-Letter, and began this alteration of title with No. 1, and discontinued “the method of carrying on a Thread of occurrences of an Old Date;" intending to publish weekly the latest intelligence he could procure.
with the alteration of title, progressed to No. 200, October 29, 1730; Green then added the No. 200 of the Weekly NewsLetter, to the former number 1196 of the Boston NewsLetter, and the following week began with No. 1397, and combined the former and the latter title, calling it The Boston Weekly News-Letter. On this occasion he published the following advertisement, viz. :
“The Publisher of this Boston News-Letter, having in concert with the late Mr. Campbell, began to Print the same with Numb. 1, on April 24, 1704, and it being carried on with the History of Publick Affairs to No. 1196, which was on December 29, 1726, and then with January 5th, 1726–7, began with a new Number which amounted on the last Thursday to 200. It is now tho't adviseable to add the said Number 200, to the former 1196, which makes 1396, the whole of our Number from the said 24th of April, 1704, and now go on with Numb. 1397,” &c.
No other alteration in the News-Letter took place during its publication by Green. He dying, John Draper succeeded him, and began the publication of the News-Letter January 4, 1733. He announced it as follows.
“Her Mr. Bartholomew Green, who has for some Years past been the Publisher of this Boston Weekly NewsLetter, being dead, this is to Inform the Publick in general, and those who are the Customers for it in particular, that it will be yet carried on, and sent out every Week on Thursday Morning at the usual Price by John Draper,
· Green did not publish two papers at the same time, as mentioned in the Historical Collections, vol. vi, page 67.