IN these days when American newspapers are numbered by thousands, when every little village has its weekly issue, and when we can take up our city dailies and read the world's doings of yesterday, how little can we realize of the times when newspapers were scarce, and news traveled slowly.

The story of the first American newspaper, though brief, is full of interest; brief it is, because the paper's life was brief: Seventy years after the landing of the Pilgrims, and two hundred and fifty years after the invention of printing, a newspaper was issued in Boston. Only one copy of this paper is known to have been preserved; and it was discovered only a few years ago by Rev. J. B. Felt, who, while preparing a history of the town of Salem, visited the Colonial State-paper office in London, for the purpose of gathering some information from the old records kept there. 

Among other curiosities, this old pioneer of American newspapers was found and examined with interest; it bore the antique name of "Publick Occurrences," and was published by Benjamin Harris at the London Coffee-house, Boston, and printed for him by Richard Pierce, on Thursday, September 25, 1690, nearly two hundred years ago. The paper was printed on three pages of a folded sheet, one being left blank; each of these pages was eleven inches long by seven inches wide, and had; two columns on a page. Imagine a newspaper, the size of an old-fashioned sheet of letter-paper, and this, as the editor proposed, to be issued once a month, or oftener, if at any time there should chance to be a "glut of occurrences."  Its columns were filled with bits of home and foreign news, without a word of editorial comment. But the paper just here expired; and why was it? Why did not Mr. Harris carry out his proposal, and so furnish the people of Boston and vicinity, "once a month," an interesting parcel of news? Simply because it happened to contain one or two business and military locals, which greatly displeased some of the official busybodies, and in their indignation, they appealed to the authorities, who forthwith solemnly determined that the paper came out contrary to law and contained " reflections of a very high nature." (Right here, we can but wonder what would have been the fate of our modern newspapers.) And to prevent a second issue of the paper, they forbade "anything in print without license first obtained from those authorized by the government to grant the same."  In this way the first American newspaper came to grief; and had it not been for the accidental preservation of this one copy in London, it would have been forever forgotten. This was the first of a great and numerous family, and though like others that made their appearance in after years, long intervals apart, it was nothing but a dry chronicle of news and history, with not much regard to system. It and they, however, as sure forerunners, were preparing the way for the free expression of thought and opinion through our ever-progressing system of journalism, which, with the blessing of God, has made our land a land of liberty. 



A VERY pretty thing to grow in our homes during the winter is the sponge pyramid. For this have four sponges of graded size, rather small than otherwise; tie them separately with gay satin ribbons, sow thickly with timothy and canary seed, and suspend in a sunny window, one above the other, in the order which makes good their name. Keep them thoroughly wet, and in a fortnight nothing is visible save a swinging pyramid of slender grasses, with here and there a gleam of the brilliant ribbons.

The following forms a dainty ornament for either mantel or bracket, and is easily made: Three or four inches above a little bric-a-brac cup or vase (so that they merely touch the water it contains), hang half a dozen large acorns by silken cords of a tint in harmony with the vase. Be careful to replenish the water daily, and soon miniature oaks will begin to grow.