The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
§ 6. The South Carolina Gazette
Franklin’s influence in journalism was not confined to Pennsylvania. He often assisted young journeymen in the establishment of newspapers in distant towns. Thomas Whitemarsh, for instance, went to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1731, as Franklin’s partner in a new enterprise, which soon included a new paper, The South Carolina Gazette. Naturally, Whitemarsh filled his front page with essays, sometimes reprinted from The Spectator, but often original, with a facetious quality suggesting Franklin. A few burlesques such as the papers of a certain Meddlers’ Club are little better than nonsense, rarely enlivened by a flash of wit. Once we find an odd bit of local colour, when a member of this club criticizes the fair ones of Charleston for promenading too much along the bay. “I have heard,” he says, “that in Great Britain the Ladies and Gentlemen choose the Parks and such like Places to walk and take the Air in, but I never heard of any Places making use of the Wharfs for such Purpose except this.” Essays of one sort or another were always popular in The South Carolina Gazette. Here may be found interesting notices of the various performances (probably professional) of Otway’s Orphan, Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer, and other popular plays of the period which were given at the Charleston theatres for twenty or thirty years before the first wandering professional companies began to play in the Northern colonies. Here, too, we find in the issue of 8 February, 1735, what is probably the first recorded prologue composed in the colonies.