Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX Franklin's Humorous Year

I

BEFORE we take up the next phase of Franklin's career, a serious one in which he begins his first exercises in statecraft, we must retreat a little to the year 1745. This was one of Franklin's most mirthful years. There is a reason for it. All his various enterprises were prospering. His printery, his newspaper, his almanac and his shop were doing well and he was holding two political jobs which fattened his income. For the first time in his life, at the age of 39, he was under no money anxieties. He therefore could relax and utilize some of his increasing leisure time as he pleased. It was in this year that he wrote a few of his slyest productions. Belonging in this period is "Polly Baker's Speech," given in a previous chapter. In 1745 he wrote one of the letters which editors and biographers suppressed until the Philadelphia Portfolio printed it years later, in the course of an attack on Franklin for "hypocrisy." As addressed to James Read it follows:

"Dear J.

"I have been reading your letter over again, and since you desire an answer I sit me down to write you; yet as I write in the market, will I believe be but a short one, tho' I may be long about it. I approve of your method of writing one's mind when one is too warm to speak of it with temper: but being myself quite cool in this affair I might as well speak as write, if I had the opportunity. Your copy

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