Printers, from time immemorialback possibly to the days of
Fausthave suffered martyrdom, more or less, at the hands of the
people who didn't pay! Many of the long-established newspaper concerns
can show a black list as long as the militia law, and an unpaid
cash account bulky enough to take Cuba! Country publishers suffer
in this way intensely. About one half of the subscribers to the
Clarion of Freedom, or the Universal Democrat, or the
Whig Shot Tower, seem to labor under the Utopian notion that
printers were made to mourn over unpaid subscription lists; or that
they got up papers for their own peculiar amusement, and carried them
or sent them to the doors of the public for mere pastime! Every
publisher, of about every paper we ever examined, about this time of
year, has told his own storyrequested his subscribers to come
forwardpay overhelp to keep the mill goingcreditors easyfire in
the stovemeal in the barrelchildren in bread, butter and
shoesSheriff at bay, and other tragical affairs connected with the
operations attendant upon unsettled cash accounts! But, how many heed
such notices? Paying subscribers do not read themsuch applications
do not apply to themthey regret to see them in the paper, and,
like honest, common-sensed people, don't probe or meddle with other
people's shortcomings. The delinquent subscriber don't read such
calls upon his humanitythey are distasteful to him; he may squint
and grin over the notice to pay up, and chuckles to
himselfAh, umph! dun away, old feller; I ain't one o' that kind that
sends money by mail; it might be lost, and the man that duns me
for two or three dollars' worth of newspapers, may get it if he
Well, the good time has come. Printers now may wait no
longer; the jig's upthey have found out a way to get their
money just as easy as other laborers in the fields of science, art,
mechanism, law, physic and religion, get theirs. Let the printer cry
Doctor Pendleton St. Clair Smith, a patron of the fine arts, best
tailors, barbers, boot blacks, and the newspaper press, was a tooth
operator of some skill and great pretension. He lived and moved in
modern style, and though no man could be more desirous of indulging in
short credit, no man believed or acted more readily upon the
base is the slave that pays.
Dr. P. St. C. Smith slipped up one day, leaving the well done
community of Boston and the environs, for fields more congenial to his
peculiar talents. He stuck the printer, of course. His numerous
subscription accounts to the various local news and literary journals,
in the aggregate amounted to quite considerable; and the printers
didn't begin to like it! Now, it takes a Yankee to head off a Yankee,
and about this time a live, double-grand-action Yankee, named Peabody,
possibly, happened in at one of the offices, where two brother
publishers were making a few remarks over delinquent subscribers, and
especially were they wrought up against and giving jessy to Dr.
Pendleton St. Clair Smith!
How much does the feller owe you? quoth Peabody.
Owe? More than he'll ever pay during the present generation.
Perhaps not, says Peabody; now if you'll just give me the full
particulars of the man, his manners and customs, name and size, and
sell me your accounts, at a low notch, I'll buy 'em; I'll collect 'em,
too, if the feller's alive, out of jail, and any where around between
sunrise and sunset!
The publishers laughed at the idea, sensibly, but finding that
Peabody was up for a trade, they traced out the accounts, &c., and for
a five dollar bill, Mr. Peabody was put in possession of an account of
some twenty odd dollars and cents against Dr. P. St. C. Smith.
Now Peabody had, some time previous to this transaction, established
a peculiar kind of Telegraph, a human galvanic battery, or endless
chain of them, extending all over the country, for collecting bad
debts, and shocking fugitives, or stubborn creditors! By a
continuation of faculties, causes and effectsshrewdness and
forethought peculiar to a man capable of seeing considerably deep into
millstonesPeabody couldn't be dodged. If he ever got his
feelers on to a subject, the equivalent was bound to be
turning up! It struck him that the collection of newspaper bills
afforded him a great field for working his Telegraph, and he hasn't
The scene now changes; early one morning in the pleasant month of
June, as the poet might say, Dr. Pendleton St. Clair Smith was to be
seen before his toilet glass in the flourishing city of
Syracuse,giving the finishing stroke to his highly-cultivated beard.
The satisfaction with which he made this demonstration, evinced the
sereneness of his mind and the confidence with which he rested,
in regard to his newspaper 'bills in Boston. But a tap is heard
at his door, and at his invitation the servant comes in, announces a
gentleman in the parlor, desirous of speaking to Dr. Smith. The Doctor
waits upon the visitor
Dr. Pendleton St. Clair Smith, I presume?
Ye-e-s, slowly and suspiciously responded that individual.
I am collector, sir, continued the stranger, for the firm of
Peabody, Grab, Catchem, and Co., Boston. I have a small (!) bill
against you, sir, to collect.
What for? eagerly quoth the Doctor.
Newspaper subscriptions and advertising, sir!
I aI a, you awell, you call in this evening, says the Doctor,
tremulously fumbling in his pocketsI'll settle with you; good
Good morning, sir, says the collector,I'll call.
That afternoon, Dr. Pendleton St. Clair Smith vamosed! He had barely
got located in Syracuse, before they had traced him; if he paid the
printer, a cloud of other debts would follow, and so he up stakes and
made a fresh dive!
Now, says Dr. P. St. C. Smith, as he dumped himself and baggage
down in the beautiful city of Chicago, Now I'll be out of the range of
the duns; they won't get sight or hearing of me, for a while, I'll bet
But, alas! for the delusion; the very next morning, a very
suspicious, hatchet-faced individual, made himself known as the deputed
collector of certain newspaper accounts, forwarded from Boston, by
Peabody, Grab, Catchem, &Co. The Dr. uttered a very severe anathema
; he looked quite streaked, he faltered; he then desired the collector
to call in course of the day, and the bill would be attended to. The
collector hoped it would be attended to, and left; so did Dr. P. St. C.
Smith in the next mail line.
About one month after the affair in Chicago, Dr. P. St. C. Smith was
seen strutting around in Charters st., New Orleans, confident in his
security, smiling in the brightness of the scenes around him; he had
just negotiated for an office, had already concocted his
advertisements, and subscribed for the papers, when lo! the same due
bill from Boston appeared to him, in the hand of an agent of
Peabody, Grab, Catchem & Co. The Dr. was almost tempted to pay the
bill! But, then, perhaps the agent had a hat full of
othersfrom the same placefor larger amounts! The next day the
Doctor put for Texas! planting himself in the pleasant town of
Bexar, and cursing duns from the bottom of his hearthe determined to
keep clear of them, even if he had to bury himself away out here in
Texas. But what was his horror to find, the first week of his hanging
up in Bexar, that an agent of the firm of Peabody, Grab, Catchem &Co.,
was there! The Doctor stepped to Galveston; on the way he
accidentally met a travelling agent of Peabody, Grab, Catchem
&Co. The Doctor took the Sabine slide for Tampico; there he
found the black vomit. He up and off again, for Mobile; his nervous
system was much worked up and his pocket-book sadly depleted! There
were two alternativeschange his name, size and profession, and live
in a swamp; or settle with the firm of Peabody, Grab, Catchem &Co. Dr. Pendleton St. Clair Smith chose the latter; he sought and soon
found in Mobile, a veritable agent, duly authorized to receive
and forward funds for Peabody, Grab, Catchem &Co., and hunt up and
downfugitives from the printer! The Doctor paid upfelt better, and
learned the moral fact that delinquent subscribers are no longer to be
the printers' ghosts.