The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin/Section Ten

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Section Ten[edit]

My Brother had in 1720 or 21, begun to print a Newspaper. It was the second that appear’d in America, & was called The New England Courant. The only one before it, was The Boston News Letter. I remember his being dissuaded by some of his Friends from the Undertaking, as not likely to succeed, one Newspaper being in their Judgment enough for America. At this time 1771 there are not less than five & twenty. He went on however with the Undertaking, and after having work’d in composing the Types & printing off the Sheets I was employ’d to carry the Papers thro’ the Streets to the Customers. He had some ingenious Men among his Friends who amus’d themselves by writing little Pieces for this Paper, which gain’d it Credit, & made it more in Demand; and these Gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their Conversations, and their Accounts of the Approbation their Papers were receiv’d with, I was excited to try my Hand among them. But being still a Boy, & suspecting that my Brother would object to printing any Thing of mine in his Paper if he knew it to be mine, I contriv’d to disguise my Hand, & writing an anonymous Paper I put it in at Night under the Door of the Printinghouse. It was found in the Morning & communicated to his Writing Friends when they call’d in as usual. They read it, commented on it in my Hearing, and I had the exquisite Pleasure, of finding it met with their Approbation, and that in their different Guesses at the Author none were named but Men of some Character among us for Learning & Ingenuity. I suppose now that I was rather lucky in my Judges: And that perhaps they were not really so very good ones as I then esteem’d them. Encourag’d however by this, I wrote and convey’d in the same Way to the Press several more Papers, which were equally approv’d, and I kept my Secret till my small Fund of Sense for such Performances was pretty well exhausted, & then I discovered it; when I began to be considered a little more by my Brother’s Acquaintance, and in a manner that did not quite please him, as he thought, probably with reason, that it tended to make me too vain. And perhaps this might be one Occasion of the Differences that we frequently had about this Time. Tho’ a Brother, he considered himself as my Master, & me as his Apprentice; and accordingly expected the same Services from me as he would from another; while I thought he demean’d me too much in some he requir’d of me, who from a Brother expected more Indulgence. Our Disputes were often brought before our Father, and I fancy I was either generally in the right, or else a better Pleader, because the Judgment was generally in my favor: But my Brother was passionate & had often beaten me, which I took extremely amiss; and thinking my Apprenticeship very tedious, I was continually wishing for some Opportunity of shortening it, which at length offered in a manner unexpected*