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which of these states there is the most liberty of the press ; for, I must acknowledge, the point is too nice for me : fear is fear, whether inspired by a Sovereign Lord the King, or by a Sovereign People.
I shall be told, that Mr. Bradford's fears were groundless. It may be so; but he ought to be a competent judge of the matter; he must know the extent of the liberty of the press, better than I could. He might be mistaken ; but that he was sincere, appeared clearly from his not putting his name at the bottom of the title page. Even the Bone to Gnaw for the Democrats, which did not appear till about six months afterwards, was “ Pub“ lished for the Purchasers.” It was not till long after the public had fixed the seal of approbation on these pamphlets, that they were honoured with the bookseller's name. It was something curious, that the second and third, and fourth editions should be entitled to a mark of respect, that the first was not worthy of. Poor little innocents! They were thrown on the parish like foundlings; no soul would own them, till it was found that they possessed the gift of bringing in the pence. Another singularity is, they got into better paper as they advanced. So the prudent matron changes the little dirty ragged wench into a fine mademoiselle, as soon as she perceives that the beaux begin to cast their eyes on her.
But, it is time to return, and give the reader an account of my gains. The pecuniary concerns of an author, are always the most interesting.
The terins on which Mr. Bradford took the Observations, were what booksellers call publishing it together. I beg the reader, if he foresees the possibility of his becoming author, to recollect this phrase well. Publishing it together, is thus managed; the bookseller takes the work, prints it, and
defrays all expenses of paper, binding, &c. and the profits, if any, are divided between him and the author. Long after the Observations were sold off, Mr. Bradford rendered me an account (undoubtedly a very just one) of the sales. According to this account, my share of the profits (my share only) amounted to the sum of one shilliug and seven-pence half-penny, currency of the state of Pennsylvania, (or, about eleven-pence three farthings sterling) quite entirely clear of all deductions whatsoever !
Now, bulky as this sum appears in words at length, I presume, that when 15. 7is reduced to figures, no one will suppose it sufficient to put a coat upon my back. If my poor back were not too broad to be clothed with such a sum as this, God knows how I should bear all that has been, and is, and is to be, laid on it by the unmerciful democrats. Why! is. 7į would not cover the back of a Lilliputian ! no, not even in rags, as they sell here.
Besides, this clothing story will at once fall to the ground, when I assure the reader (and Mr. Carey will bear witness to the truth of what I say), that, when I offered this work for publication, I had as good a coat upon my back, as ever Mr. Bradford, or any of his brother booksellers, put on in their lives; and, what is more, this coat was my
No tailor nor shoemaker ever had my name in his books.
After the Observations, Mr. Bradford and I published it together no longer. When a pamphlet was ready for the press, we made a bargain for it, and I took his note of hand, payable in one, two, or three months. That the public may know exactly what gains I have derived from the publications that issued from Mr. Bradford's, I here subjoin a list of them, and the sums received in payment.
The best way of giving the reader an idea of the generosity of
bookseller is, to tell him, that, upon my going into business for myself, I offered to purchase the copy-rights of these pamphlets at the same price that I had sold them at. Mr. Bradford's refusing to sell, is a clear proof that they were worth more than he gave me, even after they had passed through several editions. Let it not be said, then, that he put a coat upon my back. .
My concerns with Mr. Bradford, closed with The Prospect from the Congress Gallery, and, as our separation has given rise to conjectures and reports, I shall trouble the reader with an explanation of the matter.
I proposed making a mere collection of the debates, with here and there a note, by way of remarks. It was not my intention to publish it in Numbers, but at the end of the session, in one volume; but Mr. Bradford, fearing a want of success in this form, determined on publishing in Numbers. This was without my approbation, as was also a subscription that was opened for the support of the work. When about half a Number was finished, I was informed that many gentlemen had expressed their desire, that the work might contain a good deal of original matter, and few debates.
In consequence of this, I was requested to alter my plan ; I said I would, but that I would by no means undertake to continue the work.
The first Number, as it was called (but not by me), was published, and its success led Mr. Bradford to press for a continuation. His son offered me, I believe, a hundred dollars a Number, in place of eighteen ; and, I should have accepted his offer, had it not been for a word that escaped him during the conversation. He observed, that their customers would be much disappointed; for that, his father had promised a continuation, and that it should be made very interesting. This slip of the tongue, opened my eyes at once. What! a bookseller undertake to promise that I should write, and that I should write to please his customers too! No; if all his customers, if all the Congress, with the President at their head, had come and solicited me; nay, had my life depended on a compliance, I would not have written another line.
I was fully employed at this time, having a translation on my hands for Mr. Moreau de St. Mery, as well as another work which took up a great deal of my time; so that, I believe, I should not have published the Censor, had it not been to convince the customers of Mr. Bradford, that I was not in his pay; that I was not the puppet, and he the show-man. That, whatever merits or demerits my writings might have, no part of thein fell to his share.
When Mr. Bradford found I was preparing to publish a continuation of the remarks on the debates, he sent ine the following note :
“ Send me your account, and a receipt for the “ last publication, and your money shall be sent you by “ Yours, &c.
" Tho. BRADFORD.” “ Phila. April 22, 1796." To this I returned, for answer.
Philadelphia, 22d March, 1796. “Sir, “ I have the honour to possess your laconic
note ; but, upon my word, I do not understand “ it. The requesting of a receipt from a person, “ before any tender of money is made, and the note “ being dated in April, in place of March; these " things throw such an obscurity over the whole, “ that I defer complying with its contents, till I “ have the pleasure of seeing yourself.
16 I ani
“ Your most obedient
“ WM. COBBETT.'
This brought me a second note, in these words :
“ Sir, “ Finding you mean to pursue the Prospect, “ which you sold to me, I now make a demand of “ the fulfillment of your contract, and if honour “ does not prompt you to fulfill your engagements,
you may rely on an applycation to the laws of my country, and make no doubt, I shall there meet you on such grounds as will convince you I am not to be trified with.
66 I am
“ Tho. BRADFORD." 6 March 22, 1796."