This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 Anticipating Dr. Johnson's advice by half a century, he gave his days and nights to painstaking study and imitation of Addison till he had mastered that style-“familiar but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious” --which several generations of English essayists have sought to attain. All the world has heard how Franklin's career as a writer began with an anonymous contribution stealthily slipped under the door of his brother's printing-house at night, and in the morning approved for publication by his brother's circle of “writing friends.” Professor Smyth1 inclined to identify this contribution with the first of fourteen humorous papers with Latin mottoes signed “Silence Dogood,” which appeared fortnightly in The New England Courant from March to October, 1722. In this year Benjamin was in charge of the Courant during his brother's imprisonment for printing matter offensive to the Assembly; and when, on repetition of the offence, the master was forbidden to publish his journal, it was continued in the name of the apprentice. In this situation James became jealous and overbearing, and Benjamin became insubordinate. When it grew evident that there was not room enough in Boston for them both, the younger brother left his indentures behind, and in 1723 made his memorable flight to Philadelphia. Shortly after his arrival in the Quaker city, he found employment with the second printer in Philadelphia, Samuel Keimer, a curious person who kept the Mosaic law. In 1724, encouraged by the facile promises of Governor Keith, Franklin went to England in the expectation that letters of credit and recommendation from his patron would enable him to procure a printing outfit. Left in the lurch by the governor, he served for something over a year in two great London printing-houses, kept free-thinking and rather loose company, and, in refutation of Wollaston's Religion of nature, upon which he happened to be engaged in the composing-room, published in 1725 his suppressed tract On liberty and necessity. Returning to Philadelphia in 1726, he re-entered the employ of Keimer; in
1 The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Collected and edited by Albert Henry Smyth. New York, 1907. Vol. i, p. I. The Dogood Papers were claimed by Franklin in the first draft of his Autobiography, and they have been long accredited to him; but they were first included in his collected works by Professor Smyth.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.