Benjamin Franklin Essay “To the Royal Academy of Brussels”

This essay, written by one of the founding fathers of our country and one of the most prominent minds of the era, Benjamin Franklin, is about farts. The seriousness that Benjamin Franklin had about this topic is open to interpretation, with some saying he actually meant for this discussion to make a scientific impact, and others saying he is facetious . Regardless, when Franklin wrote this essay he discussed three main topics. The first, to discuss why “releasing wind” in public is viewed as a negative thing.  According to Franklin believed that the only reason it was viewed as negative was because of the smell it produced. The second and more important reason Benjamin wrote this essay was to discuss the possibility of creating a drug which could make your farts smell better. A third was for fun, since this essay was actually meant to be a joke between him and his friends.  However, I do believe that when writing this essay, Franklin truly believed that this topic deserved scientific study. Franklin did know that your farts could change smell depending on your diet, but he was convinced that a drug which could make your farts smell like perfume, no mater what you are eating, could be possible. Not only that, Franklin said this would be one the biggest breakthroughs in scientific history. Now, as for whether or not he was serious on this matter is not clear, it is known he was an inventor, but this is just ridiculous.

Overall, the context of the essay dealt with the discussion of farts and how they can be revolutionized if they could control how they smell. Even with the satirical nature of this essay,  which involved Benjamin Franklin referring to farting as Fart-hing,  it was referenced in a recent journal article from The Huffington Post. In this article, the focus is about a  new pill, that makes farts smell like chocolate. This invention was created by Christian Poincheva, and just the fact that he decided to create this pill is quite interesting on. Still, whether or not it can be considered a direct result of Benjamin’s essay is another discussion entirely. Poinchevall does not make mention of being influenced by Franklin’s essay while creating his work.

Still, even though Franklin’s essay may not have attributed directly towards Poinchevall’s work, it still did raise an intriguing question of why somebody should invent a pill that would make farts smell as sweet as breath pills make bad breath smell sweet. “My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes”. It seems that Franklin meant for this essay to be a jibe to other scientific breakthroughs in recent years, using this essay as way of expressing his distastes in a humorous way.

9 thoughts on “Benjamin Franklin Essay “To the Royal Academy of Brussels””

  1. At first, I thought that I read the first sentence wrong. When you think about the name Benjamin Franklin, you think about an intelligent and elegant man, not someone who would write about something like flatulence. However, I was very entertained reading your analysis about this essay, and I bet Franklin’s readers were just as intrigued. It is funny how Franklin really thought that a pill that made your farts smell better would be such a great innovation. Perhaps Franklin was joking when he said this, for he is known for his satirical writings. This is the first essay I have read by Franklin, that I actually thought was funny; and it would be even more humorous if he was in fact being serious about making a pill to cure the smell.

  2. I was surprised that Benjamin Franklin would write about farts since it is not the most respectable topic to talk about. This was very interesting and also funny. I was interested in the fact that a French man actually made pills to make farts smell like chocolate since I thought Benjamin Franklin’s essay was to make fun of farts.

  3. This summary was interesting because it was the first time we’ve seen Franklin use jokes that we actually find interesting. It’s interesting how something that was made a joke in the 1700s is still a topic that people can laugh about today. It shows that some jokes never go out of style

  4. When I first heard about the context of this essay in class, I was surprised to say the least. So I wanted to come and read what people thought about the essay itself. First, the summary and analysis were great. It was very easy to follow the logic and train of thought.

    After reading, the fact that Franklin chose to write about farts, of all things, is interesting to me because this is the first of Franklin’s satirical writings that made me chuckle. To me, something that was funny in the 1700s would not be funny today, however this essay proved me wrong. It just goes to show, that somethings are funny regardless of the times, and who knows, maybe something from our time will be funny to people in the 2300s.

  5. This is great! I wrote about Franklin’s “To the Royal Academy of…” as well. Your outside reference to the Huffington Post displays how much thought and investigation you put into your writing. Great job!

  6. It amazes me that one of our greatest Founding Fathers took the time to write about such a light-hearted subject. I would have never guessed that “bathroom humor” was used back then.
    Anyways, I believe that your writing fully encapsulates and summarizes Franklin’s essay. I also thought it was interesting how you found a recent article from the Huffington Post about this article. It truly shows the effort you put into your work.

  7. I think it’s very interesting that a man who holds science to such a high regard would make jokes on its account. It really says a lot about his personality that his high level of achievement didn’t get in the way to his sense of humor, he was truly a fascinating man.

  8. I really like your opening sentence. It made me really actually want to read through your whole summary. I never knew someone could write about farts so eloquently. I really liked reading this, and I can’t believe that Franklin’s proposal for a drug that would make farts smell better literally influenced a french scientist to develop something like that! Franklin really was such an influential man, that even his humorous essays were taken seriously.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this analysis because of how different the topic is. Benjamin Franklin had an interesting way of addressing things and actually still makes them sound intellectual, even farts. I thought it was funny how he could take a topic like farts and come up with innovative ideas that can actually interest people in the future. This analysis was great, the most interesting part was about Franklin’s invention idea. I believe that Franklin was joking about the whole fart pill just because it sounds funny but low-key he believed it might be a good idea. Franklin definitely had an interesting way of thinking and even more interesting sense of comedy.

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