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HAZARD TO BELKNAP.
New York, January 20,1787.
My Bear Sir, — It is unfortunate for me that your troubles and mine come at the same time, because I may appear to neglect you in a trying season, when even the sympathy of friendship would administer consolation. Ever since August, I have been up to the eyes (aye, and deeper) in business, without more help than when you were here. I have been obliged to send twice for Mr. Bryson, and to go once to Philadelphia, which detained me three weeks from home. Such work sending the mail by stage makes!
Your situation has given me not a little uneasiness, and I have often wished it was in my power to help you; but I fear I shall not be able to do as much as I could wish. The trifle you request respecting the appointment at Exeter should be granted immediately; but Mr. Hastings has contracted with me for the route by way of Concord, and it lies with him to make appointments. In a letter dated October 5, 1786, Doctor Gordon writes me: "Methinks I should like to hear that our friend Belknap is my successor at the Plain. When you write to him, let him know that 19 copies of what were sent are unsold, and that it is the opinion of Messrs. Dilly & Longman that it would not be adviseable to depend upon the sale of any number of copies of the 2d volume in Great Britain. I will make enquiry soon what the printing of a similar volume with the 1st will cost, if only 250 copies, and if 500, and send his brother Eliot word." How came this extract to be inserted here? Why, just because it happened to pop into my head, and I feared it would be forgotten if I wait for a proper place for it. "So, as I was going to say," you left a good name in Philadelphia, and there are some folks "there who have almost as good an opinion of you as I have.
Vol. I. 29
Mr. M. Clarkson and I laid our heads together about you. You must know that some time ago he wrote me that a magazine was established at Philadelphia, and the proprietors proposed to employ men of genius as writers, and to pay them for it; and asked me, " Could not your friend Mr. B. be helped in this way?" I found, upon enquiry, that the proprietors could hardly form a conjecture how much they could afford to give writers, as they could not yet judge what encouragement they themselves should meet with. When I was at Philadelphia, I conversed with Mr. Clarkson upon this subject, and in the course of the conversation he suggested a new idea: that it would be worth while for the proprietors to have a proper person for editor of the Magazine, and make it worth his attention. This was a good thought, and it led to another: that it was very probable that, if you were the editor, we might find means to get you appointed Keeper of the Library in CaTpenters' Hall, which is worth about £60, Pennsylvania currency, per annum. When we had so far digested the plan, I got Mr. C. to go at once to Mr. Gary (who seems to be the acting proprietor), and broach it to him. This produced an interview between Mr. Cary and me the next day. Mr. C. had referred him to me for particular information about you. I informed him that I could not tell what your views and intentions were; but, from the attachment to Philadelphia which you had discovered, I apprehended you might be removed thither, if suitable encouragement were given, and that I thought you would be a valuable acquisition. He said they could hardly determine yet what encouragement they could give, but had thought of 2 guineas for each original piece of 4 or 5 columns (2 pages or 2-£), and he supposed that would be their offer for one piece a month; however, when they met, he would let me know what they determined on, and at that time he would suggest to them the idea of an editor. I told him that you were a perfect stranger to the whole of this business, and did not know that any thing respecting you was in contemplation; that
the matter had originated with Mr. C n and myself,
who, from the opinion we had of you, wished to make you a Pennsylvanian; and that, if the offer was such as I thought would be an inducement, I would see what could be done. He said it could not be expected that the undertaking, especially in its infancy, would enable them to offer a sum equal to the support of a family; but, if Mr. B. could follow some other employment too, this might be a valuable addition; however, whatever it was, he would let me know. I must add here that Mr. Cary proposes publishing a Musceurn, upon the plan of Almon's Remembrancer, which is intended as a repository for good fugitive pieces, which would otherwise be lost. This is to be a distinct work from the Magazine; and, indeed, I find Mr. Cary is not to be concerned in the Magazine after March next.
This Mr. Cary was one of the proprietors of a newspaper printed in Dublin (I think the Volunteer's Journal),* and was persecuted by Government as such. He appears to be sensible and smart, and has very reputably conducted a newspaper in Philadelphia.! Mr. Spotswood is a bookseller in Philadelphia, who, as well as Mr. Cary, came to x\merica since the peace. Mr. Trenchard I know nothing of. Mr. Cist is a man of sense, and a scholar; he is a printer, who has lived a number of years in America, married in Philadelphia, and is among the foremost in his profession. You may see a specimen of his abilities in a pamphlet styled "Observations on the American Ke volution," published by a Committee of Congress in 1779, of which I think I sent you a copy. Now all this long story will serve as an introduction to the two enclosed letters, which will give you farther information.
* Probably the "Freeman's Journal." — Eds.
t The celebrated Matthew Carey came to Philadelphia in 1784, "with scarce a dozen guineas in his pocket." He established the "Pennsylvania Herald" in 1785, and afterwards the "Columbian Magazine" and the "American Museum," and other works. By printing and bookselling he amassed a fortune. He died in 1839, aged seventy-nine. — |sds.
You see the proprietors offer £100 (266f dollars) per annum, "writing included." This expression must either mean that, if you write any pieces for the Magazine, you shall not make an extra charge for them, or that, besides being the editor, you should be obliged to furnish a piece each month for that sum: of this I shall desire an explanation. Now think all over, and make up your mind about it. AH that is positively offered is £100 per annum. You may perhaps get to be Librarian, — £60. This will assist you much, both as a writer and editor. It is also probable that you may get something from Cary for assisting him in furnishing materials for the Musseum. But all this 'will not be enough to maintain your family in Philadelphia: if something in addition could be thought of, it might do, provided it is not incompatible with the others. Perhaps your invention may suggest this. How would keeping a school, or being a tutor in an academy, do? After all, may be you may say, "Why does my friend H. trouble his head so much about the matter? I have not given him any hint that I wish to go to Philadelphia?" It is very true: perhaps I have gone farther than I ought, but I was led to it by considering your unsettled situation, and a wish to make you more comfortable; and, if any hints I have suggested will produce this effect, I shall be very happy. I thought of Philadelphia, because I know you like the place, and I know no other where you will be so likely to meet with encouragement. A removal will be troublesome and expensive; but it would be worth while to remove, if you could be sure of a comfortable settlement afterwards. To obtain this certainty is the difficulty. What I have proposed will go some way towards it, but not far enough. Your own thoughts may supply the deficiency. The expence of living in a plain but decent style in Philadelphia, I suppose, will be about £400 that currency per annum; but, then, there are many ways of getting money in such a city, which Dover knows nothing of; besides, it is probable that, after you became acquainted there, you might put your children to learn trades, and thus make your family less expensive. After all I have said, I cannot advise you how to act. You know the place, you have some little acquaintance with the genius and manners of the people, and you know your present situation and prospects. Judge for yourself. Be your determination what it may, I wish to hear from you soon, that I may have something to say to Mr. Cary; and, when you are about it, I wish you would write me separation such a letter as I may enclose to him for his information: the communications which confidence in a friend may dictate should be another sheet of paper. Had I not told you the situation I have been in, I should be ashamed to acknowledge that your books are not yet sent to New Haven; but you may depend upon their being sent soon now.
BELKNAP TO HAZARD.
Boston, February 2,1787.
My Very Dear Friend, — It is impossible for words to convey the feelings of my heart on receiving yours of the 20th ult. I thank you, sir, I thank Mr. Clarkson, and I beg you will communicate my thanks to him in your own words. I remember the benignity that beamed in his countenance during the very short and only opportunity I had of conversing with him at his house; and it led me to wish for a farther acquaintance with him. There is something singularly good in that worthy family, and that