1 Godfreyís claims to this invention are fully explained and confirmed in Millerís Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century, vol. i., pp. 468-480.
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2It 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 on the subject, and what they represented to be the opinion of his friends. He listened patiently, and replied by requesting that they would favour 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 manís patronage."
3These remarks are in the Pennsylvania Gazette for October 2nd, 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 that 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 Honour, 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 Governorís depending 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 temptation 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 time 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; maugré 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 honour. 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."
4I afterwards obtained for his son five hundred pounds.
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5 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 service to a young man, a descendant of Mr. Vernon, who passed some time in that country.
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6The dissolution of the partnership was a year later, as appears by the following agreement, transcribed from the original in Franklinís handwriting.
"Be it remembered, that Hugh Meredith and Benjamin Franklin have this day separated as partners, and will henceforth act each on his own account; and that the said Hugh Meredith, for a valuable consideration by him received from the said Benjamin Franklin, hath relinquished, and doth hereby relinquish, to the said Franklin, all claim, right, or property to or in the printing materials and stock heretofore jointly possessed by them in partnership: and to all debts due to them as partners, in the course of their business: which are all from henceforth the sole property of the said Benjamin Franklin. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand, this 14th day of July, 1730.
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7 "It is little known, or set down to the commendation of Franklin, that, when he was young in business, and stood in need of sundry articles in the line of his profession as a printer, he had the ingenuity to make them for himself. In this way he founded letters of lead, engraved various printing ornaments, cut woodcuts, made printerís ink, engraved copperplate vignettes, and made his plate-press."
óWatsonís Annala of Philadelphia, p. 513.
Mr. Watson relates another anecdote. He says that the "yellow willow-tree," now so common throughout the country, was first introduced into America by Franklin. A wicker basket made of willow, in which some foreign article had been imported, he saw sprouting in a ditch, and directed some of the twigs to be planted. They took root, and from these shoots are supposed to have sprung all the yellow willows which have grown on this side of the Atlantic.
Chaptal ascribes to Franklin, also, the introduction of the agricultural use of plaster of Paris into the United States. "As this celebrated philosopher," says he," wished that the effects of this manure should strike the gaze of all cultivators, he wrote in great letters, formed by the use of the ground plaster, in a field of clover lying upon the great road, ĎThis has been plastered.' The prodigious vegetation, which was developed in the plastered portion, led him to adopt this method. Volumes upon the excellency of plaster would not have produced so speedy a revolution. From that period the Americans have imported great quantities of plaster of Paris.