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When these proposals were delivered to Webbe, Franklin declared that he was entitled to half the profits, beside his gain as a printer, for two reasons. In the first place, he had a font of small letter such as no other printer in America had; in the second place, he was postmaster, and that gave him power to circulate his magazine to the exclusion of any rival. Believing all this, Webbe readily agreed. But before the contract was engrossed and ready for signing, he grew wiser. The reasons for claiming so great a share of the profits he learned were groundless and ridiculous, and, fearing grosser frauds behind, he carried his plan to Bradford. If Bradford gave him better terms, it was not because he loved Webbe, but because he hated Franklin.
The second installment of "The Detection " is given to sneering at Franklin's plan, to justifying Webbe's plan, but at the same time assuring the public that the proposed magazine will not appear. In the third number of "The Detection," Webbe flatly accused Franklin of using his place of postmaster to shut the "Mercury" out of the post, and of refusing to let the riders carry it with the "Gazette." Up to this point in the squabble Franklin had made no reply. He now dropped the advertisement of the magazine, and in its place put a letter.
It was true that none of Bradford's "Mercuries" were carried by the riders. Colonel Spotswood, the postmaster-general, had peremptorily forbidden it; and he had forbidden it because Mr. Bradford had persistently refused to settle his accounts as late postmaster at Philadelphia.
The dispute had now become so hot that Bradford issued a postscript to the "Mercury," in which Webbe made a rambling reply. It was true that, after the orders of Colonel Spotswood, no more "Mercuries" had been sent to the post-office to be forwarded in the mail; but they had been sent to the riders, and had, with the connivance of Franklin, been distributed by them. Now, upon a sudden, this was stopped, and it was stopped because of the letters which the "Mercury" contained. This charge undoubtedly was true.
With this the quarrel ended, and no more was heard of the magazines till the close of January, 1740-1741. Then, to the surprise of the town, Bradford announced that he had in press and would soon publish "The American Magazine, or A Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies." True to his word, the magazine was on his counter on the 13th of February, 1740-1741. Three days later Franklin issued "The General Magazine and
Historical Chronicle for all the British Provinces in America." "The American Magazine" lived three months, and was ridiculed by Franklin in doggerel verse. "The General Magazine" struggled on for six months, and then quietly expired. It was printed on the small type of which Franklin had boasted to Webbe. The title-page was adorned with the Prince of Wales' coronet and plumes. The contents were historical, political, religious. There were speeches of governors, replies of assemblies, pieces of poetry, extracts from books, long theological disputes, and a manual of arms. But neither the contents, nor the fine type, nor the place of postmaster, could make it popular. It perished miserably, was utterly forgotten by its founder, and is of no interest now save that, with the "American Magazine" of Bradford, it forms the first attempt to set up the monthly magazine in America.
THE failure of the magazine did not dishearten him, and he was soon casting about for something else to set agoing. He found it in the "Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania." There was in almost every large town in the province a school of some sort where the rudiments of education were taught. But nowhere did an academy, or anything approaching to a college, exist. That none existed was, to Franklin, a good and sufficient reason why he should seek to found one. It was not long, therefore, before he had a plan drawn and a rector chosen. The rector was to be the Reverend Richard Peters. But Mr. Peters had a better-paying place in view, would not think of such a position; and Franklin, knowing of no other fit for the trust, laid his scheme aside for six years.
Hard upon the abandonment of the plan for an academy came his "Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Planta
tions in America." The paper is dated May 14, 1743, goes over the difficulties scientific men found in communicating their discoveries to each other, and suggests as a remedy the founding of the "American Philosophical Society' at Philadelphia. This was done. But beyond this fact and the roll of membership, nothing concerning it is known. The records are gone. The transactions are lost, and if any papers were communicated by the members, they too are wanting. Franklin did, indeed, propose to publish an American Philosophical Miscellany, to issue the first number in January, 1746, and to put in it selections from the papers written by the gentlemen of the society. But when 1746 came Franklin was deep in electrical researches, from which in 1747 he was suddenly turned aside by a series of events it is now necessary to narrate.
In 1739 trouble broke out between England and Spain as to the right to gather salt at Tortugas and cut logwood at Campeachy. As the next ship from London might bring news of open war, the governor begged the assembly to put the province in a state of defense. He reminded them in strong terms of the terrors of war, of sacked cities, of ravaged fields, of the slaughter of the young and feeble by merciless and pitiless invaders. But his eloquence could