Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Henry S. Woodfall, [before 22 September 1773]

To Henry S. Woodfall1

AL: American Philosophical Society

This note went to the recipient, then to a mutual friend, then back to Woodfall and eventually back to Craven Street. The note was on a covering sheet around the manuscript of the following document, “An Edict by the King of Prussia,” and explained the typographical form that Franklin wished to have given to his satire. On the verso of the sheet Woodfall addressed it and its contents to Franklin’s old friend and neighbor Caleb Whitefoord, who owned stock in the newspaper and frequently saw material submitted to it.2 Whitefoord readdressed the cover and the manuscript to Woodfall with a request to him, written under Franklin’s note, to publish the satire at once.3 The printer did so. He then returned the cover to Franklin, and added under Whitefoord’s note one of his own to explain how he had handled “the enclosed,” which was either the manuscript or a clipping of the published text. This small sheet, in other words, has a great deal to say about the birth of the satire.

[Before September 22, 1773]

If Mr. Woodfall shall think fit to give the enclosed a Place in his Paper, he is requested to take Care that the Compositor observes strictly the Italicking, Capitalling and Pointing. If it is done as correctly as the Rules for diminishing, &c. it will be very satisfactory to his humble Servant the Author.4

[Note by Whitefoord to Woodfall:] Pray let the inclosd appear in P.A. as soon as you can conveniently. Yours &c.

[Note by Woodfall to Franklin:] If the enclosed had been printed as a Foreign Article I feared it would have been lost, or at least not so much attended to as it deserved.


Addressed by Woodfall: To / Caleb Whitefoord, Esq.

Addressed by Whitefoord [?]: To Mr. H[enry Woodfall?]

Notation by Whitefoord: Cover to K. of P.

1Henry Sampson Woodfall (1739–1805) was a stormy petrel and one of the best known newspapermen of his day. He succeeded his father as printer of the Public Advertiser in 1760, and continued the paper for more than three decades; he turned it into an open forum that was, as he said in 1769, “what its correspondents please to make it.” One of them was Junius, for whom Woodfall acted as both publisher and editor, and who involved him in his first—but far from last—trial for libel. DNB. Despite BF’s frequent appearances in the columns of the paper, this is the only extant bit of correspondence between him and its printer.

2Crane, Letters to the Press, p. xxi.

3Crane misread Whitefoord’s request as a part of BF’s note (ibid., p. 237), a natural error because the two men had a strikingly similar hand. For Whitefoord see above, X, 171 n.

4This was a point on which BF felt strongly; see his letter to WF below, Oct. 6. A comparison of the text of the “Edict” with that of the “Rules” (above, Sept. 11) shows how faithfully Woodfall heeded the injunction.

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