6
LOSING LONDON
1773–1776

In the crucial years leading to America’s break with Britain,
Franklin carried the burden of reconciliation. In June 1773 the
Hutchinson letters he had sent to Boston provoked Massachusetts
to petition the king for the governor’s removal. It was up to agent
Franklin to submit the inflammatory petition to the Privy Council.
They delayed for months before setting a hearing date. Franklin
chafed at their disrespect and his defamation in their partisan
press. “Tir’d of Meekness,” he used his satire to hold up “a
Looking-Glass in which some Ministers may see their ugly Faces,
and the Nation its Injustice.”1

In the Public Advertiser (11 September 1773), Franklin imper-
sonated archconservative “Q.E.D.” who proposed a set of twenty
“Rules by Which a Great Empire May be Reduced to a Small
One”—an ironic litany of America’s grievances that anticipated in
its particularized complaints the Declaration of Independence.
Franklin, who had used the popular recipe formula in Silence
Dogood’s “Receipt to make a New-England Funeral Elegy,”
applied it now to the high crimes and misdemeanors of
unindicted coconspirators in the Ministry. The tone of the whole is
more invective than ironic. Taking the premises of colonial policy
to their logical extreme in the manner of Jonathan Swift, Franklin
narrowed his focus by subtitling the article, “Presented privately

-103-

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Benjamin Franklin's Humor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction - A Life in Laughter 1
  • 1- Silence Dogood 1722–1723 11
  • 2- Paragraphs in Philadelphia 1729–1735 27
  • 3- Philadelphia’s Poor Richard 1733–1748 47
  • 4- Philadelphia Comic Relief 1748–1757 65
  • 5- Making Friends Overseas 1757–1774 85
  • 6- Losing London 1773–1776 103
  • 7- Seducing Paris 1776–1782 119
  • 8- Comic Release 1783–1785 137
  • 9- Revising Past and Future 1786–1790 153
  • Notes 169
  • Sources 175
  • Index 181
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