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Ben Franklin

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of the transcriptions of The Courant given here have not had the proofreading corrections completed.


New-England Courant.

Issue 18

From Monday November 27. to Monday December 4. 1721.


For the Entertainment of this Week, I beg leave to present my Readers with the following Piece in my own Vindication.

Nothing is more certain than that great and good Men may sometimes give so great a Loose to their Passion and Opinion, as to load those whom they apprehend to differ from them with unjust and groundless Charges: And the Law of Nature, not only allows, but obliges every Man to defend himself against his Enemies, How great and good so ever they may appear.

The severe Treatment I have met with on account of some late Pieces inserted in this Paper, is Known to all who know any thing of the Present unhappy Divisions of the Town: And since by the Industry of some Persons, the Charge against me is made publick, I hope my being publick in my Vindication will find a Pardon.

About three Weeks since, a certain Gentleman stopt me in the Street, and with an Air of great displeasure attack'd me in Words to this Effect, You make it your Business, in the Paper call'd the Courant, to villify and abuse the Ministers of this town. There are many Curses which await those that do so. The Lord will smite thro' the Loins of them that rise up against the Levites. I would have you consider of it, I have no more to say to you.

This heinous Charge and heavy Curse would have been more surprizing to me, if it had not come from one who is ever as groundless in his Invectives as in his Panagyricks. I confess there were two Pieces inserted in the Courant (No 3) in Answer to the Anti-Courant, which I have since wished had been left out; but my Printing the Anti-Courant laid me under some Obligation to publish them; tho' I believe, if I had took more Time to peruse them, I should not have done it. But this Gentleman has endeavour'd to make me an Object of publick Odium, for no other Reason than my Publishing an Answer to a Piece in the Gazette of October 30. wherein the greatest Part of the Town are represented as unaccountable Lyars and Self-Destroyers, for opposing the Practice of Inoculation. I speak not only my own Opinion in This, but that of the Town in General, who were so exasperated, that at a Town Meeting soon after, they mov'd that a Committee might be appointed to find out the Author; but the Moderator telling them, that he believ'd it was not their Province to enquire into the Matter, and, that besides the Difficulty of finding out the Author, the Piece was too scandalous to deserve their Notice, they were perswaded to desist. The Answer to this Piece being but short, I shall here again insert it.

To the Author of the New-England Courant,
If You have any Room in your next Paper, I can't see but the publishing this may be servicable and of Use; nor will any reasonable Person think it a Reflection on the Clergy or Breach of the Publisher's Promise in No 5.

Reading in the last Monday's Gazette, I find a Piece concerning Inoculation, wherein the Reverend Author Publishes to the World what abundance of Lying and

false Reports have been spread concerning that New and Safe Way as esteemed by some. I shall be fully of that worthy Person's Mind, if Equivocations, mental Reservations, and Jesuitical Evasions, are in his Opinion equal to Lying. I shall make no Answer to that Piece, lest I should differ in my Sentiments with Men of Piety, Learning, and great Estates, who after much serious Thought, have come into that Opinion; and shall only mention what Dr. Gumble in Monk's Life says of a Clergyman. 'Doubtless, (says the Dr.) a ' Clergyman, while he keeps within the Sphere of his 'Duty to God and his People, is a Angel of Heaven; 'but when he shall degenerate from his own Calling, 'and fall into the Intriegues of State and Time-Serving, he becomes a Devil; and from a Star in the 'Firmament of Heaven, he becomes a sooty Coal in 'The blackest Hell,' and receiveth the greatest Damnation.
Your Humble Servant,

The Person who bought this Letter to me is a Schollar and a Gentleman, and (to undeceive some who think it came from a Tory) one who was never suspected to have imbib'd any Tory Principles. Now I leave the World to judge, whether any particular Person, of the Ministers of the Town in general are reflected on in it. Here is no Name mention'd, nor would so many have thought the cost fitted the suppos'd Author of the aforesaid Piece in the Gazette, if he had not Challeng'd it by a Curse on the Taylor in the open Street, and afterwards so often in private Conservation: He confidently affirms that I either employ some Persons to write Things on Purpose to abuse and vilify the Ministers, or write them my self, I beg leave to say that in this he is very much misinform'd, I neither have wrote any one Letter my self, nor employ'd any other Person to write any thing relating to the Ministers: nor do I know the Authors of many of the Letters sent to me, Several Ministers both in Town and Country constantly take the Courant, which I believe they wou'd not do, if they thought it publish'd on purpose to bring their Persons into Disesteem. As, in Controversies of Religion, nothing is more frequent than for Divines themselves to press the same Texts for opposite Tenets, they cannot fairly condemn a Man for dissenting from them in Matters of Religion; much less can any Man be thought to hinder the Success of the Works of a Minister, by opposing him in that which is not properly a Minister's Work: And, "to attempts to reduce all Men to the "same Standard of thinking, is (as the British Cato observes) absurd in Philosophy, impious in Religion, and Faction in the States," Even Errors made publick, and afterwards publickly expos'd, less endanger the Constitution of Church or State than when they are (without Opposition) industriously propagated in private Conversation.

Hence, to anathematize a printer for publishing the different Opinions of Men, is as injudicious as it is wicked. To use Curses without a Cause, is to throw them away as if they were Nothing Worth, and to rob them of their Force when there is Occasion for them.

The Courant was never design'd for a Party Paper. I have once and again given out, that both Inoculators and Anti-Inoculators are welcome to speak their Minds in it: and those who have read the Courants must know that I have not only pubish'd Pieces wrote among our selves in favour of Inoculation, but have given as full an Account of the Success of it in England, as the other Papers have done: Yet the Envy of some Men has represented me as a Tool to the Anti-Inoculators. What my own Sentiments of

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things are, is of no Consequences, nor any matter to any Body. I hereby invite all Men, who have Leisure, Inclination and Ability, to speak Their Minds with Freedom, Sense and Moderation and their pieces shall be welcome to a Place in my paper.

I hope I have now given full Proof of my Impartiality: But if the Gentlemen above-mention'd or those influenc'd by him, think themselves wrong'd at any time, and will not be at the Pains to defend themselves they are welcome to treat me as they please, I shall give my self nor the Town any further Trouble in my Defense.


On Saturday in the Afternoon, soon after I had set my Types for the above Vindication I receiv'd my Curse at Large, inclos'd in the following Letter, & fines it comes so earnestly recommended, I shall insert it Verbatim.

To Mr. Franklin Author of the Courant.

You have given out that you refuse nothing that is sent to you, therefore I presume you'll insert the inclosed in your next Courant, Which no doubt will much Please and Edify your Candid Readers, I am sure 'twill one subscribes himself.

Dec 2. 1721. Your constant Reader

The Words that were spoken to young Franklin the Printer, Nov.13, 1721. (of which there have been many Lies raised as the manner of them is on all Occasions)

Young Man: You Entertain, and no doubt you think ' you Edify, the Publick with weekly Paper called The Courant. The Plain Design of your Paper, is to Banter and Abuse the Ministers of God, and if you can, to defeat all the good Effect of their Ministry on the Minds of the People. You may do well to Remember that it is a Passage, in the Blessing on the Tribe of Levi, Smite thro' the Loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him. I would have you to know, That the Faithful Ministers of Christ in this Place, are as honest, and useful Men as the Ancient Levites were, and are as Dear to their Glorious Lord as the Ancient Levites were: And if you Resolve to go on in serving their Great Adversary as you do you must expect the Consequences.

The Reasons of this faithful Admonition was, because the Practice of supporting, and publishing every Week, a Libel, on purpose to lessen and Blacken, and Burlesque the Vertuous, and Principal Ministers of Religion in a Country, and render all the Services their Ministry Despicable, and even Detestable to the People, is a Wickedness that was never known before, in any Country, Christian, Turkish, or Pagan, on the face of the Earth, and some Good Men are afraid it may provoke Heaven, to deal with this Place, in some regards as never any place has yet been dealt withal, and a Charity to this Young Man, and his Accomplices might render such a Warning proper for them.

The Author of this faithful Admonition, is certainly under a Degree of Distraction, or he would never desire a Thing to be made publick so much to his own Confusion: Nor Cou'd the best Friend I have in the world, have done more to clear up my Reputation.

Is this the Manner of you, Sir, to curse young Franklin in the Street, without proving any Thing against him, and then to send the Words, that were spoken to him to the Press? You say the Courant is a Libel, supported and publish'd every Week, ON PURPOSE to lessen, and blacken, and burlesque the PRINCIPAL Ministers of Religion, &c. Pray Sir, When were the Ministers mention'd in the Courant, but when they themselves first occasion'd it, By zealously recommending the doubtful Practice of Inoculation? Again, This is a Wickedness that was never known before, in any Country, Christian, Turkish, or Pagan, on the Face of the Earth. Here Sir, You oblige me to insert a short Paragraph of News and a scrap of Poetry, which I never till now intended to have made publick. The News is from a London Paper which I have by me, and the Poetry from a Letter in the St. James's Post, Publish'd in England some time since, upon the News of Mr. W.----l's being expell'd the House of Representatives of this Province, for his ill Treatment of the Ministers.

London, August 19. They write from Cambridge that the Head of a certain College has lately lost his interest very much there, through his Pride, Avarice, and other Priestly Endowments.

The Poetry concludes the Letter, which is too long to insert here.

Thus P--sts by strict Rules
May be call'd the Edge-Tools,
Which the people, poor Fools,
Are forbidden to touch.

Be a Villain, a Traytor,
Affront your Creator,
Or glory in Satyr,
It safer in much.
Nay, be lewd, drunk, or swear,
Proud, Covetous as they 'r
You may scape the holy snare,
But if a P--- if once you've thoroughly vext,
He'll stick by You closer than e'er to his Text,
You're plagu'd for't in this World, and d----n'd In the next

Now, Sir, Your knowledge of Christian Countries, obliges you to own, that far worse Libels than these are frequently publish'd in England; and none of the PRINCIPAL Ministers of Religion, are lessened or blacken'd or burlesqu'd by them, tho' some zealous State-Divines, and Meddlers in other Men's Matters, are sometimes so unwise as to discover their Guilt by their Resentments: And if you will for once impartially compare these Things with the Courants, you can't for Shame but take your Curse again, and make life of it your self, for endeavoring to lessen, and blacken, and burlesque young Franklin and his Accomplices.

I confess, I have not treated this Gentleman as his Character deserves; but (whatever is the Matter with me) I can't help being so metaphysical as to separate his Person from his Character. He has no Business to curse any Body out of his own Congregation. My own Pastors are as faithful to their Flock as he can be to his; and have not yet thought proper so much as much as to reprove me for inserting any thing in the Courant, since No 3.

December 4. 1721 J. F.

P. S. I desire Mr. Castalio would let me know, in his next, where I have given out, That I refuse nothing that is sent to me, otherwise I shall pronounce him one of my forgetful Readers.

Cambridge, Thursday November 30. 1721. This Morning dyed here William Hutchinson, of Boston, Esq. of the Small Pox, in the Thirty Eighth year of his Age. He was a Gentleman of liberal Education, adorned with many Excellent Virtues; and as he was well qualified and disposed to serve his Native Country in its true Interests, so he perform'd the Duty and Trust of those Publick Stations he sustained in Government; with Skill, true Courage and Constancy, and ever solicitously careful on all proper Occasions, to assert and defend the just Rights and Liberties of this People: And was decently Interred at Boston on the Saturday following.

Custom-House Boston. Entered Inwards.

Francis James from N. Hampshire, Richard Langdon from Connecticut, Charles Vancliffe from Long Island, Thomas Bell from Virginia, William Maran from Maryland, James Nichols, Joseph Palmer, and Jonathan Rouse from N. Carolina, Samuel Boyes from the bay of Honduras, Henry Timberlake and George Barrow from St. Christopher, John Butcher from Barbadoes, John Pitts from Jamaica, John Lagoue from Cape Francois, Thomas Taylor from N. Carolina.

Cleared Out.

Hosea L' hommedieu for Long Island, Gabriel Estcol for Madera, James Prince for North Carolina, Zechariah Davis for Virginia, John Jones for Barbadoes, Francis Fowles for South Carolina, Thomas Aston for Antigua.

Outward Bound.

Francis Brown for Connecticut, Joseph Prince for N. Carolina, Robert Gambsby for Virginia, James Lewis for South Carolina, Roger Dench for Barbadoes, John Compton for Bermuda, James Arnoll and John Legoree for Leward Islands, David Cutler Ship Abraham for London.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T S.

Just Reprinted.

A Defence of the New-England Charters, By Jer. Dummer Esq. Sold by Samuel Gerrish and Daniel Henchman Booksellers in Boston.

Just publish'd the Second Edition of Several Arguments, proving that inoculation of the small Pox is not contained in the Law of Physick, either Natural or Divine, and therefore Unlawful. Together with a Reply to two shore Pieces, one by the Rev. Dr. Increase Mather, and another by an Anonymous Author, intituled, Sentiments on the Small Pox Inoculated. And also, A short Answer to a late Letter in the New- England Courant. By John Williams

BOSTON: Printed and Sold by J. Franklin in Queen Street, over against Mr. Sheaf's School. Advertisements and Letters are taken in by F. Edwards, at the Corner Shop on the North Side of the Town-House, and at the Place of Sale. Price 6 d. single or 10 s. a Year.

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