Benjamin Franklin, the First Civilized American

By Phillips Russell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII A Fur Cap among Powdered Heads

I

SOON after establishing his residence in France, Franklin wrote two characteristic letters to feminine. friends. One, to Mary Hewson in London, said:

"My Dear, Dear Polly, figure to yourself an old man, with grey hair appearing under a Martin fur cap, among the powder'd heads of Europe."

It is this fur cap which is pictured in the Franklin portrait by Cochin, reproduced as the frontispiece to this volume.

The other was to Elizabeth Partridge in Boston:

"Somebody, it seems, gave it out that I loved Ladies, and then everybody presented me their Ladies (or the ladies presented themselves) to be embrac'd, that is, to have their Necks kiss'd. For as to kissing of Lips and Cheeks, it is not the Mode here, the first is reconed rude, and the other may rub off the Paint. The French Ladies have, however, 1000 other ways of rendering themselves agreeable; by their various Attentions & Civilities, & their sensible Conversation."

Franklin was too much of a showman and had, besides, too much shrewdness and knowledge of the world, not to realize at a very early date that in France the ground had already been laid, the atmosphere already created, the settings already moved into their place, for the success of the appeals which he was about to make. He saw that all he had to do was to go slowly, to feel his way gradually, and not to make offensive mistakes.

-254-

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