1The preceding chapter was written at Passy. In a memorandum which he made, when he again resumed the narrative four years afterwards, he says, "I am now about to write at home (Philadelphia), August, 1788, but cannot have the help expected from my papers, many of them being lost in the war. I have, however, found the following." He then proceeds as in the text.
2 Considering the remarkable success of this Almanac, end the great celebrity it has attained, particularly the summary of maxims selected from it and published separately under the title of The Way to Wealth, the reader may be curious to see the advertisement of the first number, including the table of contents. It was printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette on the 19th of December, 1732, as follows:
"Just published, for 1733, An Almanac, containing the Lunations, Eclipses, Planetsí Motions and Aspects, Weather, Sun, and Moonís Rising and Setting, High Water, &c.; besides many pleasant and witty Verses, Jests, and Sayings: Authorís Motive of Writing; Prediction of the Death of his Friend, Mr. Titan Leeds; Bachelor's Folly; Parsonís Wine and Bakerís Pudding; Short Visits: Kings and Bears; New Fashions; Game for Kisses; Katherineís Love: Different Sentiments; Signs of a Tempest; Death of a Fisherman; Conjugal Debate; Men and Melons; The Prodigal; Breakfast in Bed; Oyster Lawsuit, &c. By Richard Saunders, Philomat. Printed and Sold by B. Franklin."
Such was the eagerness with which this Almanac was sought that three editions were printed before the end of January, and, although he enlarged his first editions for the subsequent years, yet two editions were frequently required to supply the demand. In the Almanac for 1789 he makes the following apology for its miscellaneous character :ó
"Besides the usual things expected in an Almanac, I hope the professed teachers of mankind will excuse my scattering here and there some instructive hints in matters of morality and religion. And be not thou disturbed, O grave and sober reader, if, among the many serious sentences in my book, thou findest me trifling now and then and talking idly. In all the dishes I have hitherto cooked for thee there is solid meat enough for thy money. There are scraps from the table of wisdom that will, if well digested, yield strong nourishment for the mind. But squeamish stomachs cannot eat without pickles, which, it is true, are good for nothing else, but they provoke an appetite. The vain youth that reads my Almanac for the sake of an idle joke will perhaps meet with a serious reflection that he may ever after be the better for."
It is believed that a complete series of Poor Richardís Almanac Is not now in existence. After much research I have not been able to find more than one-third of the numbers that were published.
3In 1787 he published a piece in his paper on the Freedom of Speech and of the Press. Again, late in life, he wrote a pointed satirical piece on this subject.
4None of these pamphlets have been found Several anonymous tracts on this subject are advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette, in the months of July, September, aud October. 1735, some of which are probably the same that are here mentioned as having been written by Franklin.
5 Before this appointment, he had been favoured in regard to the circulation of his newspaper. On the 28th of January, 1785, he says: "By the indulgence of the Honourable Colonel Spotewood, postmaster-general, the printer hereof is allowed to send the Gazettes by the post, postage free, to all parts of the post-road, from Virginia to New England."
The following advertisement indicates nearly the time at which he assumed the duties of postmaster, and also the degree of speed with which the mail was then conveyed.
October 27th, 1737.--" Notice is hereby given, that the post-office of Philadelphia is now kept at B. Franklinís, in Market Street; and that Henry Pratt is appointed Riding Postmaster for all the stages between Philadelphia and Newport in Virginia, who sets out about the beginning of each month, and returns in twenty-four days; by whom gentlemen, merchants, and others may have their letters carefully conveyed, and business faithfully transacted, he having given good security for the same to the Honourable Colonel Spotswood, postmaster-general of all his Majestyís dominions in America."
Six years afterwards some improvement had taken place in the transmission of the mail. In an advertisement dated April 14th, 1743, he says: "After this week the northern post will set out for New York on Thursdays at three oíclock in the forenoon till Christmas. The southern post sets out next Monday at eight oíclock for Annapolis, and continues going every fortnight during the summer season." In winter the post between Philadelphia and New York went once a fortnight.
The following characteristic advertisement is contained in the Pennsylvania Gazette for June 23d, 1737 :ó" Taken out of a pew in the Church, some months since, a Common Prayer Book, bound in red, gilt, and lettered D. F. [Deborah Franklin] on each cover. The person who took it is desired to open it and read the eighth commandment, and afterwards return it into the same pew again; upon which no further notice will be taken."