Diplomats Invent New Compliments for Ben: Donated Clock Inspires Many to Praise Franklin
Geracimos, Ann, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Statesman, scientist and inventor Benjamin Franklin, who once said, "Time is money," got some back Friday in the State Department dining room that bears his name.
He got a French-made, 193-year-old ormolu mantelpiece clock.
The occasion was a dinner marking the formal presentation of the gift clock to the department by the Fund for the Endowment of the Diplomatic Reception Rooms.
"Time is the one thing for which all statesmen always yearn," said Thomas Pickering, undersecretary of state for political affairs, while he complimented the generosity of those present for their work in helping upgrade rooms that he said once looked like "a cross between a basketball court and a car barn."
Costing $213,000, the 28-inch-high timepiece bears Franklin's likeness with such dignified stature that diplomats and donors alike felt it necessary to put a human face on the man. They told stories about him while feasting on a menu that came from his own files: steamed turbot with mincemeat turnovers, rack of lamb coated with honey and hazelnuts, a Silver Queen corn souffle and three wines.
Franklin would have loved it, even if he was "a patented vegetarian and water drinker," said French Ambassador Francois Bujon de l'Estang , whose remarks competed discreetly - and wittily - with those of Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador. The words of both men kept the audience alert to a degree unusual at such functions.
Quoting Franklin in introductory remarks, fund chairman Leonard Marks said: " `If you would have guests be so with cheer, be so yourself or so appear.' I hope you are feeling so tonight."
"Not exactly Big Ben: but quite big, and certainly a very fine Ben," said Mr. …