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already paid for this fourth Year are hereby desired now to pay or send it in; with their resolution if they would have it continued and proceeded on for a fifth year (Life permitted); which is only to be known by the number that take it weekly throughout the year; though there has not as yet a competent number appeared to take it annually so as to enable the Undertaker to carry it on effectually; yet he is still willing to proceed with it, if those Gentlemen that have this last year lent their helping hand to support it, continue still of the same mind another year, in hopes that those who have hitherto been backward to promote such a Publick Good will at last set in with it."
No. 390, completed four years printing of the News-Letter by John Allen in Pudding lane. On the evening following the day on which No. 390 was published, namely, October 2, 1711, happened what, from that time until 1760, was called the great fire in Boston. The postoffice and Allen's printing house were consumed in that conflagration. The following week the News-Letter was again printed at Green's printing house in Newbury street, with this imprint," Boston: Printed in Newbury Street, for John Campbell Post Master," which remained unaltered until October 1715. No. 391 contains an account of the fire. See Appendix B.
In October, 1715, B. Green added his name to the imprint, as the printer.
No. 664 begins the year 1717 with January—the NewsLetter had previously begun the year with March. Although this paper had at that time been published thirteen years it still languished for the want of due support, as appears by an address from Campbell to the public.
It was the design of Campbell that the News-Letter should give a selected, regular succession of foreign events; but the smallness of his paper rendered it impossible for
him to publish occurrences seasonably; and at the close of the year he found himself greatly in arrears with his foreign intelligence. In Nos. 769 and 799, he proposes a remedy for this difficulty, which will, perhaps, be best understood in his own words, and may give a correct idea of the state of the News-Letter at that period.
"After near upon Fourteen Years experience, The Undertaker knows that it's Impossible with half a Sheet in the Week to carry on all the Publick News of Europe, (tho' hitherto all those of Great Britian, Ireland, our own and our Neighbour Provinces has been Yearly Inserted). He now intends to make up that Deficiency by Printing a Sheet every other Week for Tryal, by which in a little time, all will become new that us'd formerly to be Old. Jan'y. 12, 1719."
"The Undertaker of this News-Letter, the 12th January last being the Second Week of this Currant Years Intelligence, gave then Intimation that after 14 (now upwards of 15) years experience, it was impossible with half a Sheet a Week to carry on all the Public Occurrences of Europe, with those of this, our Neighbouring Provinces, and the West Indies. To make up which Deficiency, and the News Newer and more acceptable, he has since Printed every other Week a Sheet, whereby that which seem'd Old in the former half Sheets, becomes New now by the Sheet, which is easy to be seen by any one who will be at the pains to trace back former years; and even this time 12 Months, we were then 13 Months behind with the Foreign News beyond Great Britain, and now less than Five Months, so that by the Sheet we have retrieved about 8 months since January last, and any One that has the News Letter since that time, to January next (life permitted) will be accommodated with all the News of Europe &c., contained in the Publick Prints of London that are needful for to be known in these parts. And in regard the Undertaker had
not suitable encouragement, even to Print half a Sheet Weekly, seeing that he cannot vend 300 at an Impression, tho' some ignorantly concludes he Sells upwards of a Thousand far less is he able to Print a Sheet every other week, without an Addition of 4, 6 or 8 Shillings a Year, as every one thinks fit to give payable Quarterly, which will only help to pay for Press and Paper, giving his Labour for nothing. And considering the great Charge he is at for several Setts of Public Prints, by sundry Vessels from London, with the price of Press, Paper, Labour, carrying out the News Papers, and his own Trouble, in collecting and composing, &c. It is afforded by the Year, or by the Piece or Paper, including the difference of Money far cheaper than in England, where they Sell several Hundreds nay Thousands of Copies to a very small number vended here. Such therefore as have not already paid for the half Year past the last Monday of June, are hereby desired to send or pay in the same to John Campbell at his House in Cornhill, Boston. August 10, 1719."
Campbell's difficulties increased. A new postmaster had just been appointed, and in the December following the publication of the foregoing advertisements, that postmaster began publishing another newspaper. Campbell appeared to be displeased; a "paper war" of short duration ensued. (See Appendix C.) Both papers were continued; and advertising customers began to increase. In No. 821, January 11, 1721, Campbell again addressed his customers, and informed them, "This Publick Letter of Intelligence was begun here at Boston by John Campbell the 24th of April 1704, near upon Sixteen Years ago, and ever since continued Weekly with Universal Approbation and General Satisfaction, giving a true Account of all the Publick Affairs of Europe, with those of this and the Neighbouring Provinces, for the Interest and Advantage
of the Post Office, Gentlemen, Merchants and others, both in Town and Country; and preventing a great many false Reports. And the Author being still desired and encouraged to carry on the same by the Gentlemen, Merchants and others, his usual Customers, he intends (Life Permitted) to answer their expectation, and to forward still as regular Account of Affairs as our part of the World will admit of; If he does not Print a Sheet every other Week this Winter Time, he designs to make it up in the Spring, when Ships do arrive from Great Britain. Such Others as have a mind to promote and encourage the said Intelligence may agree with John Campbell in Cornhill, Boston, and have it on reasonable Terms left at any House in the Town, Seal'd or Unsealed; and for the advantage of the Post Office an Intire Sheet of Paper, one half with the News, and the other half good writing Paper to write their Letter on, may also be had there for any one that pleases to have it every Monday."
By the latter part of this advertisement we are to understand, that some copies of the News Letter would every Monday be printed on a whole sheet of writing paper, one half of which would be blank, on which letters might be written and sent abroad through the medium of the post office; the accommodation was the saving of postage, as a letter and a newspaper might be forwarded in the same sheet; and newspapers thus printed, were sold by Campbell at his house in Cornhill.
In No. 876, December 26, 1720, Campbell, in an address to the public, mentioned, that he had published the NewsLetter "near upon Seventeen Years," and that it was "the first and only intelligence on the Continent of America, till about a Year past, one was set up at Philadelphia and another here, and how well either the one or the other has answered the said Design, and People's great Expectation, is left with every one to Determine." He informs his
readers that, "he designs (God willing) to carry it on another year," with the usual proviso, that "he is Encouraged by a competant Numbers taking it by the Year, to enable him to defray the necessary charges of Press, Paper, the Publick Prints, and Writing of the same.'
On the 7th of August, 1721, a third newspaper in Boston was published, entitled The New England Courant.1 The publisher of that paper, in an address to the public, hinted that the News Letter was "a dull vehicle of intelligence," &c. This appears to have nettled Campbell, who in his next News-Letter of Monday, August 14, made the following defence.
"N. B. On Monday last, the 7th Currant, came forth a Third Newspaper in this Town, Entituled, The New England Courant, by Homo non unius Negoti, Or, Jack of all Trades, and it would seem, Good at none, giving some very, very frothy fulsome Account of himself; but lest the continuance of that stile should offend his readers, wherein with submission, (I speak for the Publisher of this Intelligence, whose endeavours has always been to give no offence, not meddling with things out of his Province) the said Jack promises in pretence of Friendship to the other News-Publishers to amend, like soure Ale in Summer, Reflecting too too much, that my performances are now and then very, very Dull, Misrepresenting my candid endeavours (according to the Talent of my Capacity and Education, not soaring above my Sphere) in giving a true and genuine account of all Matters of Fact, both Foreign and Domestick, as comes any way well Attested, for these Seventeen Years & an half past. It is often observed, a bright Morning is succeeded by a dark Rainy Day, and so much Mercury in the beginning may end in Album Græcum. And seeing our New Gentleman seems to be a Scholer of
1 Printed by James Franklin.
2 The motto of Franklin's address to the public.