Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 46

of a lower sort than he could fully
approve in order to float editions of more desirable works: he tells
plaintively of his public's preference for "Robin Hood's Songs" over the
Psalms of his beloved Watts.[i-170] In still another way, Franklin
promoted the bookishness of his community: he founded the first of
American circulating libraries, and he built up for himself one of the
largest private libraries in the country.[i-171]

Journalism was a common by-product of the printing trade. When Franklin
and Meredith took over Keimer's _The Universal Instructor in all Arts
and Sciences: and Pennsylvania Gazette_ in 1729, there were six other
newspapers being published in the colonies--three in Boston and one each
in New York, Philadelphia, and Annapolis. The Williamsburg press had a
newspaper a few years later, but the other two printing towns in the
colonies had to wait some thirty years for journalistic ventures--a
newspaper in New London and a magazine in Woodbridge.[i-172]

The fundamental question to be asked in analyzing a newspaper may be
stated thus: What is the editorial conception of the primary function of
the press? Franklin had received his early newspaper training on his
brother's _New England Courant_, which frankly acknowledged
entertainment as its primary function and relegated news to a minor
place. Of his contemporaries in 1729, the oldest, the _Boston
News-Letter_, held the publication of news to be its sole function;
while the _Boston Gazette_, the _New York Gazette_, and the _Maryland
Gazette_ took much the same attitude. In the main, they were rather
dreary reprints of stale European news. Bradford's _American Weekly
Mercury_, in Philadelphia, gave somewhat more attention to local news;
but with the exception of the Franklin-Breintnal _Busy-Body_ papers,
contributed in 1728-1729 in order to bring Keimer to his knees, the
_Mercury_ gave very little attention to the entertainment function. Only
the _New England Weekly Journal_, carrying on something of the tradition
of the old _Courant_, dealt largely in entertainment as well as in news.
This bi-functional policy was the one adopted by Franklin's
_Pennsylvania Gazette_, which was always readable and amusing at the
same time that it was newsy.

Of the editorial or opinion-forming function of newspapers there was
little evidence in Franklin's paper,[i-173] at least in the field of
politics. The obvious reason was the active governmental censorship. It
remained for John Peter Zenger to introduce that function into colonial
journalism in the _New York Weekly Journal_ in 1733: his struggle for
the freedom of the press is well known.[i-174] But the _Pennsylvania
Gazette_ never became in any degree a political organ while Franklin
edited it; and his first political pronouncement was published not in
his paper

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Text Comparison with Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 0
First Visit to Boston 55 V.
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eminence, is the most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men.
Page 11
Imagining it may be equally agreeable to you to know the circumstances of my life, many of which you are yet unacquainted with, and expecting the enjoyment of a week's uninterrupted leisure in my present country retirement, I sit down to write them for you.
Page 13
his sphere of action; and therefore, in many cases, it would not be altogether absurd if a man were to thank God for his vanity among the other comforts of life.
Page 35
The old gentleman said he would go with me to the new printer; and when we found him, "Neighbour," says Bradford, "I have brought to see you a young man of your business; perhaps you may want such a one.
Page 49
When we came into the Channel, the captain kept his word with me, and gave me an opportunity of examining the bag for the governor's letters.
Page 55
So I went on now very agreeably.
Page 56
Page 62
But, however serviceable I might be, I found that my services became every day of less importance, as the other hands improv'd in the business; and, when Keimer paid my second quarter's wages, he let me know that he felt them too heavy, and thought I should make an abatement.
Page 63
I am sensible I am no workman; if you like it, your skill in the business shall be set against the stock I furnish, and we will share the profits equally.
Page 64
The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me that he began for himself, when young, by wheeling clay for brick-makers, learned to write after he was of age, carri'd the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he had now by his industry,.
Page 79
On this little fund we began.
Page 88
Page 95
"And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either here or hereafter.
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10 17 4 35 8 Sun ent.
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Whitefield,[79] who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher.
Page 126
_" And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means.
Page 147
Bond, on some other occasion afterward, said that he did not like Franklin's forebodings.
Page 167
We had a watchman plac'd in the bow, to whom they often called, "_Look well out before there_," and he as often answered, "_Ay, ay_"; but perhaps had his eyes shut, and was half asleep at the time, they sometimes answering, as is said, mechanically; for he did not see a light just before us, which had been hid by the studding-sails.
Page 176
You may think perhaps, that a _little_ Tea, or a _little_ Punch now and then, Diet a _little_ more costly, Clothes a _little_ finer, and a _little_ Entertainment now and then, can be no _great_ Matter; but remember what _Poor Richard_ says, _Many a Little makes a Mickle.