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CCCXC: THE CRAVEN-STREET GAZETTE 1 - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. V Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. V (Letters and Misc. Writings 1768-1772).
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THE CRAVEN-STREET GAZETTE1
Saturday, September 22, 1770.
This morning Queen Margaret, accompanied by her first maid of honor, Miss Franklin, set out for Rochester. Immediately on their departure the whole street was in tears—from a heavy shower of rain. It is whispered that the new family administration, which took place on her Majesty’s departure, promises, like all other new administrations, to govern much better than the old one.
We hear that the great person (so called from his enormous size) of a certain family in a certain street is grievously affected at the late changes, and could hardly be comforted this morning, though the new ministry promised him a roasted shoulder of mutton and potatoes for his dinner.
It is said that the same great person intended to pay his respects to another great personage this day at St. James’s, it being coronation-day; hoping thereby a little to amuse his grief; but was prevented by an accident, Queen Margaret or her maid of honor having carried off the key of the drawers, so that the lady of the bedchamber could not come at a laced shirt for his Highness. Great clamors were made on this occasion against her Majesty.
Other accounts say that the shirts were afterwards found, though too late, in another place. And some suspect that the wanting a shirt from those drawers was only a ministerial pretence to excuse picking the locks, that the new administration might have every thing at command.
We hear that the lady chamberlain of the household went to market this morning by her own self, gave the butcher whatever he asked for the mutton, and had no dispute with the potato-woman, to their great amazement at the change of times.
It is confidently asserted that this afternoon, the weather being wet, the great person a little chilly, and nobody at home to find fault with the expense of fuel, he was indulged with a fire in his chamber. It seems the design is to make him contented by degrees with the absence of the Queen.
A project has been under consideration of government to take the opportunity of her Majesty’s absence for doing a thing she was always averse to, namely, fixing a new lock on the street door, or getting a key made to the old one; it being found extremely inconvenient that one or other of the great officers of state should, whenever the maid goes out for a ha’penny worth of sand or a pint of porter, be obliged to tend the door to let her in again. But opinions being divided which of the two expedients to adopt, the project is for the present laid aside.
We have good authority to assure our readers that a Cabinet Council was held this afternoon at tea; the subject of which was a proposal for the reformation of manners and a more strict observation of the Lord’s day. The result was a unanimous resolution that no meat should be dressed to-morrow; whereby the cook and the first minister will both be at liberty to go to church, the one having nothing to do, and the other no roast to rule. It seems the cold shoulder of mutton and the apple-pie were thought sufficient for Sunday’s dinner. All pious people applaud this measure and it is thought the new ministry will soon become popular.
We hear that Mr. Wilkes was at a certain house in Craven Street this day, and inquired after the absent Queen. His good lady and the children are well.
The report that Mr. Wilkes, the patriot, made the above visit is without foundation, it being his brother, the courtier.
Sunday, September 23d.
It is now found, by sad experience, that good resolutions are easier made than executed. Notwithstanding yesterday’s solemn order of Council, nobody went to church to-day. It seems the great person’s broad-built bulk lay so long abed that the breakfast was not over till it was too late to dress. At least this is the excuse. In fine, it seems a vain thing to hope reformation from the example of our great folks.
The cook and the minister, however, both took advantage of the order so far, as to save themselves all trouble, and the clause of cold dinner was enforced, though the going to church was dispensed with, just as common working folks observe the commandment. The seventh day thou shalt rest, they think a sacred injunction; but the other six days thou shalt labor is deemed a mere piece of advice, which they may practise when they want bread and are out of credit at the ale-house, and may neglect whenever they have money in their pockets.
It must, nevertheless, be said, in justice to our court, that whatever inclination they had to gaming, no cards were brought out to-day. Lord and Lady Hewson walked after dinner to Kensington to pay their duty to the Dowager, and Dr. Fatsides made four hundred and sixty-nine turns in his dining-room as the exact distance of a visit to the lovely Lady Barwell, whom he did not find at home; so there was no struggle for and against a kiss, and he sat down to dream in the easy-chair that he had it without any trouble.
Monday, September 24th.
We are credibly informed that the great person dined this day with the Club at the Cat and Bagpipes in the City on cold round of boiled beef. This, it seems, he was under some necessity of doing (though he rather dislikes beef), because truly the ministers were to be all abroad somewhere to dine on hot roast venison. It is thought that if the Queen had been at home he would not have been so slighted. And though he shows outwardly no marks of dissatisfaction, it is suspected that he begins to wish for her Majesty’s return.
It is currently reported that poor Nanny had nothing for dinner in the kitchen for herself and puss but the scrapings of the bones of Saturday’s mutton.
This evening there was high play at Craven-Street House. The great person lost money. It is supposed the ministers, as is usually supposed of all ministers, shared the emoluments among them.
Tuesday, September 25th.
This morning the good Lord Hutton called at Craven-Street House, and inquired very respectfully and affectionately concerning the welfare of the Queen. He then imparted to the big man a piece of intelligence important to them both, which he had just received from Lady Hawkesworth, namely, that their amiable and excellent companion, Miss Dorothea Blount, had made a vow to marry absolutely him of the two whose wife should first depart this life. It is impossible to express with words the various agitations of mind appearing in both their faces on this occasion; vanity at the preference given them over the rest of mankind; affection for their present wives; fear of losing them; hope (if they must lose them) to obtain the proposed comfort; jealousy of each other in case both wives should die together,—all working at the same time, jumbled their features into inexplicable confusion. They parted at length, with professions and outward appearances of ever-enduring friendship; but it was shrewdly suspected that each of them wished health and long life to the other’s wife, and that however long either of these friends might like to live himself, the other would be very well pleased to survive him.
It is remarked that the skies have wept every day in Craven Street the absence of the Queen.
The public may be assured that this morning a certain great person was asked very complacently by the mistress of the household, if he would choose to have the blade-bone of Saturday’s mutton, that had been kept for his dinner to-day, broiled or cold. He answered gravely: If there is any flesh on it, it may be broiled; if not, it may as well be cold. Orders were accordingly given for broiling it. But when it came to table, there was indeed so very little flesh, or rather none at all (puss having dined on it yesterday after Nanny), that, if our new administration had been as good economists as they would be thought, the expense of broiling might well have been saved to the public and carried to the sinking fund. It is assured the great person bears all with infinite patience. But the nation is astonished at the insolent presumption that dares treat so much mildness in so cruel a manner.
A terrible accident had like to have happened this afternoon at tea. The boiler was set too near the end of the little square table. The first ministress was sitting at one end of the table to administer the tea; the great person was about to sit down at the other end, where the boiler stood. By a sudden motion, the lady gave the table a tilt. Had it gone over, the great person must have been scalded; perhaps to death. Various are the surmises and observations on this occasion. The godly say it would have been a just judgment on him for preventing, by his laziness, the family’s going to church last Sunday. The opposition do not stick to insinuate that there was a design to scald him, prevented only by his quick catching the table. The friends of the ministry give out that he carelessly jogged the table himself, and would have been inevitably scalded, had not the ministress saved him. It is hard for the public to come at the truth in these cases.
At six o’clock this afternoon, news came by the post that her Majesty arrived safely at Rochester on Saturday night. The bells immediately rang—for candles to illuminate the parlour; the court went into cribbage; and the evening concluded with every demonstration of joy.
It is reported that all the principal officers of state have received an invitation from the Duchess Dowager of Rochester, to go down thither on Saturday next. But it is not yet known whether the great affairs they have on their hands will permit them to make this excursion.
We hear that, from the time of her Majesty’s leaving Craven-Street House to this day, no care is taken to file the newspapers; but they lie about in every room, in every window, and on every chair, just where the Doctor lays them when he has read them. It is impossible government can long go on in such hands.
To the Publisher of the Craven-Street Gazette:
I make no doubt of the truth of what the papers tell us, that a certain great person has been half-starved on the blade-bone of a sheep (I cannot call it of mutton, because none was on it), by a set of the most careless, blundering, foolish, crafty, and knavish ministers that ever got into a house, and pretended to govern a family and provide a dinner. Alas, for the poor old England of Craven Street! If these nefarious wretches continue in power another week, the nation will be ruined; undone, totally undone, if the Queen does not return, or (which is better) turn them all out, and appoint me and my friends to succeed them. I am a great admirer of your useful and impartial paper, and therefore request you will insert this, without fail, from
Your humble servant,
To the Publisher of the Craven-Street Gazette:
Your correspondent, “Indignation,” has made a fine story in your paper against our excellent Craven-Street ministry, as if they meant to starve his Highness, giving him only a bare blade-bone for his dinner, while they riot upon roast venison. The wickedness of writers in this age is truly amazing. I believe we never had, since the foundation of our state, a more faithful, upright, worthy, careful, considerate, incorrupt, discreet, wise, prudent, and beneficent ministry than the present. But if even the angel Gabriel would condescend to be our minister, and provide our dinners, he could scarcely escape newspaper defamation from a gang of hungry, ever-restless, discontented, and malicious scribblers.
It is, Sir, a piece of justice you owe our righteous administration to undeceive the public on this occasion, by assuring them of the fact, which is that there was provided, and actually smoking on the table under his royal nose at the same instant, as fine a piece of ribs of beef roasted as ever knife was put into; with potatoes, horse-radish, pickled walnuts, &c., which beef his Highness might have eaten of if he had pleased so to do; and which he forbore to do, merely from a whimsical opinion (with respect be it spoken) that beef doth not with him perspire well. This is the truth; and if your boasted impartiality is real, you will not hesitate a moment to insert this letter in your very next paper.
I am, though a little angry with you at present,
Yours, as you behave,
A Hater of Scandal.
Junius and Cinna came to hand too late for this day’s paper, but shall have place in our next.
Marriages. None since our last; but puss begins to go a courting.
Deaths. In the back closet and elsewhere, many poor mice.
Stocks. Biscuit—very low. Buckwheat and Indian meal—both sour. Tea lowering daily—in the canister.
Wednesday, September 26th. Postscript.—Those in the secret of affairs do not scruple to assert roundly that the present first ministress proves very notable, having this day been at market, bought excellent mutton-chops, and apples four a penny, made a very fine apple-pie with her own hands, and mended two pair of breeches.
[1 ]While Dr. Franklin resided in London he lived for the most part in the family of Mrs. Stevenson in Craven Street. This humorous journal pretends to have been kept during a few days’ absence of that lady from home.