Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 27 July 1756

To William Strahan

ALS: Yale University Library

New York July 27. 1756

Dear Sir,

The above is a Copy of my last.4 Since which I have received from Philadelphia one of our Newspapers printed on the new Letter you sent us, and find that it is not a Brevier Body, but larger, and is really and truly no other than the Burgeois, No.1. of Caslon’s Specimen now lying before me, which Burgeois is mark’d by a Pen with his own Hand, Price 2s. So that the Charging it as Brevier at 2s. 6d. is an Imposition of 25 per Cent. which is too much to bear, and therefore I do insist on his doing me Justice, and refunding the additional Sixpences; or he will forfeit the Character he always bore with me, that of an honest Man. I inclose you a Piece of the Newspaper for your Satisfaction. Compare it with his Specimen, and you will find what I say precisely true. The Sum to be return’d is £11 15s. 6d. for which when receiv’d please to give my Account Credit.5

Lord Loudon arriv’d here last Week. I have had the Honour of several Conferences with him on our American Affairs, and am extreamly pleas’d with him. I think there cannot be a fitter Person for the Service he is engag’d in.6

I purpose to return tomorrow to Philadelphia, where I hope things will soon be on a better Footing, as we expect a new Governor7 of whom we hear a good Character.

My best Compliments to Mrs. Strahan and your Children; I am, Dear Friend, Yours affectionately

B Franklin

P.S. Since my last, I have a Letter from B. Mecom, who writes that he has sent you a £60 Bill.8 I send a whole Newspaper instead of the Piece, mentioned above as there is some News in it.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4See above, p. 466.

5Since 1738, BF had used type purchased from William Caslon (1696–1766), peerless among English type founders from about 1730 until the appearance of the first work in Baskerville’s type in 1757. Strahan had written David Hall on Oct. 1, 1755, that he had “sent the Fount of English &c. you wanted, which with much Difficulty I got Mr. Caslon to finish time enough to come now, and as you desired, have put it to Mr. F’s Account.” APS. On June 17, 1756, the front page of Pa. Gaz., still appeared in Brevier No. 2, probably ordered from Caslon’s specimen sheet of 1742 on July 31, 1744. The new type which BF mentioned on July 2, 1756, was probably Burgeois No. 1, slightly larger than No. 2, both appearing on Caslon’s new sheet of 1749 (doubtless the “Specimen now lying before me”), which also showed for the first time Burgeois types No. 1 and No. 2. Above, V, 82 n; C. William Miller, “Franklin’s Type: Its Study Past and Present,” APS Procs., XCIX (1955), 421; Daniel B. Updike, Printing Types, Their History, Forms, and Use (Cambridge, 1922), II, 101–6; W. Turner Berry and Alfred F. Johnson, comp., Catalogue of Specimens of Printing Types by English and Scottish Printers and Founders, 1665–1830 (London, 1935), pp. 16–17; Joseph Ames, F.R.S., Typographical Antiquities; Being an Historical Account of Printing in England … (London, 1749), p. 571. The June 24, 1756, issue of Pa. Gaz., was printed in the striking new type, Burgeois No. 1 as BF indicates, characterized by larger letters closer together and much easier to read than the previously used Brevier No. 2. The paper sent to Strahan could have been any one dated from June 24 to July 22 inclusive. BF’s request for a credit shows that the new, clearer Burgeois type cost but £47 2s. for a full fount of 471 pieces as compared to £58 17s. 6d. remitted on July 2 for the Brevier. According to BF’s account with Strahan, Caslon, on Dec. 29, 1756, allowed an “Abatement” of £5 17s. 9d. (Ledger “D,” APS), half the amount sought; perhaps thereby becoming “half an honest man” in BF’s sight. Expressing an opinion which BF seems to have shared, Strahan wrote Hall on Sept. 11, 1756, that “I see you have begun to use the new letter in your newspaper, which looks very well.” APS.

6BF later revised this opinion. He observed in the autobiography that Loudoun’s campaigns were “frivolous, expensive and disgraceful to our Nation beyond Description.” Par. Text edit., p. 400.

7See below, p. 489 n, for Pennsylvania’s new governor, William Denny. Pa. Jour., July 15, 1756, reported his appointment.

8See above, p. 465.

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