Insight from the Social
I have striven not to laugh at human actions, nor to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.
The scene is Paris; the year, 1777.Dramatis personae: Benjamin Franklin and Edward Gibbon. Franklin is the United States envoy to France. Gibbon is the newly acclaimed author of the first volume of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and a member of the British Parliament on vacation. Franklin sends a note to Gibbon, requesting that they meet socially despite their respective nations being at war. Gibbon replies that although he greatly admires Franklin as an individual, it would be inappropriate for him to converse socially with a British subject in rebellion. Franklin ripostes that he greatly admires Gibbon as a historian, and that if Gibbon ever decides to write on book on the decline and fall of the British Empire, he will provide some relevant material. 1 Franklin's estimate of Gibbon has been ratified