Benjamin Franklin published the sixth part of his “Silence Dogood” essays on June 11th, 1722. This essay specifically “exploits” Franklin’s opinion of his town’s worst “vice”: pride. Ben Franklin states that there is no worst sin or trait that God despises more than mankind’s excessive pride. One line that showcases Franklin’s true disgust in pride is when he explains why pride is such an unattractive trait; “The proud Man aspires after Nothing less than an unlimited Superiority over his Fellow-Creatures.” I completely agree with this statement and why it is such a bad thing in society. If humans live to control each other then all autonomy and individuality would be lost. In the time when Franklin wrote this, innovation was a major theme, as was intellectual thought. For men to live with so much pride that they wanted to be “superior” to each other would have been hazardous to their time’s developments and potential. Franklin also touches on the foolishness of “pride of apparel”, which is similar to modern day superficial-ness. Franklin says there is no pride worse than pride of apparel because it has no substantiality and no purpose. He also says that poor men are more susceptible to this sin of pride because they are constantly trying to emulate their rich peers. Franklin’s essay is headed into all the right directions because of this timeless argument against pride, but falls towards the last paragraph. The importance and weight his argument carries turns into a less important subject when he begins to mock women’s dress. He expressed his contempt with “hoop-petticoats” because the skirts are “monstrous” and “topsy-turvy.” This sounds very silly and completely irrelevant to the above statements. I completely lose my mind with his argument when Franklin turns sexist, as well as borderline misogynistic, with this line: “I would at least desire them to lessen the Circumference of their Hoops, and leave it with them to consider, Whether they, who pay no Rates or Taxes, ought to take up more Room in the King’s High-Way, than the Men, who yearly contribute to the Support of the Government.” This was a poor conclusion to this essay and therefore lessens the professionalism and seriousness of his statement. I was not a fan of this piece towards the end.
On July 23, 1722, Benjamin Franklin published his ninth essay of the “Silence Dogood” essays in The New-England Courant. In this essay, Franklin looks to explore which is worse for the Commonwealth; the “hypocritical pretenders to religion, or by the openly profane.” Through his essay, Franklin then concludes that hypocrites are worse than the people that are being openly profane. The hypocrite becomes especially worse, Franklin explains, when they are able to hold a position in government. The reason they are worse is that a hypocrite leads people to believe one thing, when they are truly not following it themselves. Franklin supports this point by explaining how the people will “take him for a Saint, and pass him for one.” While the openly profane people are letting their true values show, the hypocrites are the ones who are hiding these values and leading the people of the Commonwealth to one thing, while they are thinking another. Franklin continues to support this claim, bringing in why it is even worse when the hypocrite holds a position in the government. The hypocrite “leaves the Gospel for the sake of the law,” which Franklin goes on to further explain that while the hypocrite leads his people to believe in the religion he so believes in, he is really cheating them and will destroy them under the law. Through this, the hypocrites are deceiving the people of who they actually are. The people look up to whoever is in a government position and will expect them to do the right thing. They will understand how the openly profane are not fit for the job, and except someone who is to take it, which just might be a hypocrite. The openly profane are at least able to let the truth show about them, while the hypocrites are able to hide this truth, making them much more dangerous since people do not know their true intentions. Franklin goes on to conclude his essay with “a paragraph or two from an ingenious Political Writer in the London Journal.” In these last paragraphs it is explained how we cannot judge people based on their best abilities but “the whole of their conduct, and the effects of it.” By doing this we might be truly able to see how people are, and become aware of who may be deceiving us.
Professor Robert Allison
1 February 2016
Silence Dogood Essay XI
The eleventh Silence Dogood essay was written for the August 13th issue of the New-England Courant in 1722, and involves the request of an older virgin woman, who refers to herself as Margaret Aftercast, asking for relief for women who have remained virgins and are unmarried over the age of thirty. The “petitioner” says she was once a younger woman who would immediately spurn the advances of any suitors simply because she was young, attractive, and could. Now in her advanced years the woman has remained a virgin and has no suitors, due to her dismissal of many for no legitimate reason, and now regrets this. She requests some relief program be set up to care for aging women who cannot find a suitor and are still virgins by the age of thirty.
Franklin, as Silence, proposes a society of older virgins lacking any suitors to receive 500 pounds sterling. Franklin also made three rules for the society; members cannot be admitted if after the age of 25 they continued to discard “humble servants without sufficient reason” unless she writes her regret and remorse. The second rule that a member could not refuse credible offers from suitors and still receive the 500 pounds. The third rule was that the woman could not hold and praise company over her husband for more than an hour, so essentially she had to treat her husband well. Franklin clearly outlined the rules and functions of this society, unambiguously so that anyone reading this could have made it without any further questions.
I am not sure of Franklin is being sarcastic here, though it really does not seem to be the case, but if he is not then I strongly disagree with him. I think these women that treated their suitors like objects and got rid of them as soon as they grew tired of them were cruel and this is poetic justice. No one owes them anything, especially not any money; I researched how much 500 pounds sterling would be worth today, and the closest estimate inflated the price of 500 pounds from 1774 to today and that alone was over $70,000 American! For being cruel to suitors and by your own fault being alone, that is all it takes to get 70 grand? If anything I think Franklin should have said it was awful that this woman’s actions affected her life, and expressed how sorry he was that she was a terrible person.
It was on the 13th of August back in 1722 when Benjamin Franklin published his 10th article under the name of Silence Dogood. It is a little weird he published it under that name right? But it was the only way to get his work published because of the fact they rejected it when it was under his name. In this particular article Franklin points out major facts to help the women population. And I believe it was the foundation of women getting the respect and rights they deserved.
“We have an abundance of women, who are bred well and liv’d well”, Franklin says. By this he really got my attention because he was heading somewhere really important. He said yeah the women were treated so well but after their husbands died they were pretty much in a bad situation. It was hard for them to carry on by themselves, with children and very little money. I believe Franklin felt obligated to help and make a difference. Because of it he opened an office called, “An Office of Ensurance for Widows.” with the idea to help these widows and their kids.
This idea seems so beneficial because Franklin made sure he wanted to help the people who really needed help and not the ones who did not. For an example Franklin say “Intent being to Aid the Poor, not add to the Rich”. I believe just how people beat the system now they would of back then. But Franklin tried his best to disallow that from happening. And he wanted to give money to those widows he actually needed their help. This proposal was quite the idea to come up with back then and not only that but to come up with it at the age of 16. It just goes to really show you where Franklins mindset was and how far advanced it was.
Unable to publish letters in the New- England Courant using his own name, Benjamin Franklin composed a set of fourteen essays under the pseudonym Silence Dogood that were accepted and published in the newspaper. The sixth essay written by Franklin as Mrs. Dogood was published in the newspaper’s June 4th to the 11th, 1722 issue.
In the sixth essay, Franklin starts his writing by expressing his dislike for a certain vice, pride. He says that pride is “a Vice the most hateful to God and Man”. Franklin believes that all people have a yearning to be considered someone who has pride, being superior over all others without it. It is implied that Franklin finds pride to be the folly of every man and woman. Every man and woman desire to have pride, yet it almost always leads to “destruction”. Franklin talks about those who strive to have pride but says, “until one Misfortune comes upon the Neck of the other, and every Step they take is a step backwards”, furthering that pride is a foolish thing to try to obtain as it will only hinder progression. Despite wanting it, pride is a characteristic that no one wants to see in others around them. Even those who have pride have a sense of disdain for others with it. Franklin, writing as his female alias, turns to a more specific subject of pride being the Pride of Apparel, as he has begun to notice more of this, especially among the women of the community. He focuses on women’s fashion, mainly their “monstrous topsy-turvy” Hoop-Petticoats. It is clear that Franklin is disgusted by these gaudy and over-sized pieces of apparel so popular among the women. He finds that the Hoop-Petticoats take up too much space in the rooms for the little to no contribution the women are providing to conversation or business by men. Franklin writes, “I would at least desire them to lessen the Circumference of their Hoops.” Throughout this essay, Franklin repeatedly expresses his dislike, for Hoop-Petticoats, believing in his opinion that they are an “Indication of Immodesty” with their huge size coupled with the women’s lack of contribution. Franklin, again, writing as a woman, does not believe this letter will persuade other women to stop wearing the Hoop-Petticoats, but suggests that they consider making them smaller in size, so as to not take up the most space in a room, and to possibly be made suitable for places such as the Church or kitchen.
In Benjamin Franklin’s 4th essay published May 14th in 1722 under the pen name, Silence Dogood, he draws to attention, through vivid description and details of the collegiate society, one of the current issues of that time period: college education. Just like Franklin’s parents had to choose out of their many children whom would be able to attend college, many other families struggled with the same problem. Franklin’s parents’ decision was based on financial and cognitive ability i.e. which child had shown the most potential and had the best chance of prospering thereafter.
In this article Franklin discusses with his Reverend his own struggle, “I ask’d his Advice about my young Son William, whether or no I had best bestow upon him Academical Learning.” Franklin reiterates Clericus, the Reverend’s, determination to persuade him into sending William to college and after which Franklin takes a walk in the garden, falls asleep, and dreams of how the college accepts its students and later returns them into the world slightly educated and more arrogant. Franklin suggests that it was common of the time to send 1 child to school if they had the financial means but what families did not account for was the child’s ability to perform in school and the marginal benefit they would later receive having sent them. He states, “I reflected in my Mind on the extream Folly of those Parents, who, blind to their Childrens Dulness, and insensible of the Solidity of their Skulls, because they think their Purses can afford it, will needs send them to the Temple of Learning, where, for want of a suitable Genius, they learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a Room genteely….and from whence they return, after Abundance of Trouble and Charge, as great Blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.”
In essence, Franklin saw the various children receiving admittance into the Temple of Learning then later exiting into professions such as merchandising, travelling, or even nothing and while those emerged from this gate, there was another path he spoke of that lead to the “Temple of Theology.” This one he described as holding the painful and laborious businesses and also the path the majority of the crowd followed down. After he recanted this bizarre dream to Clericus, they mutually decided that this was an accurate representation of Harvard College.
On the 13th of August in 1772, under a pseudonym of Silence Dogood, Benjamin Franklin points out in his tenth letter to the author of the New England Courant that often times women live good lives, are “bred well, and liv’d well” but are ruined when they get married and their husbands die leaving them with little to nothing except children to take care of. To prevent their husbands’ deaths from altering their way of life in a negative way, Franklin proposes the idea of opening a service or office called “An Office of Ensurance for Widows” that would allow around 2000 women to subscribe to a service where they would pay a sum each month or quarter that would then turn into a larger sum these widows would receive within six months of their husband’s death. However, if a woman’s husband leaves her with an amount of 2000 l. after all debts have been paid, she could not claim the money because the whole idea of this organization is to “aid the poor, not add to the rich” as Franklin puts it.
This, I believe, is the premise he wants to establish this service on. Franklin would like this “Office of Ensurance to Widows” to act as an aid to those in need and not be a way for the rich to become richer. This organization for women with deceased husbands, in a larger sense, is a way that could bring about happiness and for men to “help another, without any disservice to himself.” The thing that I take away from this essay is the fact that even if “an office of ensurance for widows” is not opened, we should still be kind, willingly help others, and ask nothing in return. The last sentence that Ben Franklin writes in the tenth letter of Silence Dogood is, “For my own Part, I have nothing left to live on, but Contentment and a few Cows; and tho’ I cannot expect to be reliev’d by this Project, yet it would be no small Satisfaction to me to see it put in Practice for the Benefit of others.” Even though he has not much to give, he is still willing to see it succeed not to help himself, but to help others.
In the 6th Letter of Benjamin Franklin’s “Silence DoGood” series, Franklin, through his pen name take the opportunity to speak of the evil and consequences of pride and for this reason, states it is the “most hateful (vice) to God and Man”. . Franklin notes that the proud man aims only to be better than others and that this is not an appropriate way to go about one’s life. Franklin claims that pride come before and leads to the destruction of life.
Franklin claims that pride come before and leads to the destruction of life. This may seem like a hefty claim, but Franklin backs it up with logic, and the reader can easily follow the process he used to arrive at that conclusion. Franklin explains that if one dominated by pride arrives at a small fortune, he or she will be unable to prevent their pride from consuming their entire life, and fortune. Following pride would lead a man or women to strive to imitate those around and them, those who in fact poses more than them. This will cause the person who once possessed a small fortune to end up worse off than when they began. Imitating wealth is a very expensive process, and as Franklin says “By striving to appear rich they become really poor”. This makes the argument that pride is a bad thing even stronger, as its no longer a question of morality, but can clearly have a negative effect on a person’s life.
It is at least slightly ironic to write a letter aimed at convincing people to improve themselves while arguing that one should avoid pride. By writing a letter aimed at improving other lives is to say that Franklin felt he was in some way wiser, or more educated that his readers would be. This is clearly Franklins pride showing, which contradicts the message he puts forward. If Franklin is so successful, yet clearly has some level of pride, why should other avoid pride? It clearly worked for Franklin.
Ben Franklin, under the pseudonym of Silence Dogood, wrote a series of essays for the New-England Courant. His twelfth essay, released in September of 1722, pertains to the “Vice of Drunkeness,” or the pastime of being intoxicated. Franklin writes from an anti-alcohol perspective, while still trying to appease those that drink by including minor examples beneficial effects, even if they are exaggerated or sarcastic.
Franklin’s essay begins with examples of how alcohol can be both beneficial and detrimental to a person’s character. For example, he states that alcohol sometimes helps people become more charismatic. He writes, “Some who cannot ordinarily talk but in broken Sentences and false Grammar, do in the Heat of Passion express themselves with as much Eloquence as Warmth.” Franklin then proposes the non-desirable effects of alcohol when he writes, “’Tis
strange to see Men of a regular Conversation become rakish and profane when intoxicated with Drink.” Franklin continues his pattern by giving another positive effect of drinking when claiming, “Dic. Ponder discovers an excellent judgment when he is inspir’d with a Glass or two of Claret.” This example once again affirms positivity towards alcohol, that is, until Franklin continues with a counter-argument. The quote continues, “… but he passes for a Fool among those of small Observation, who never saw him the better for Drink.” By making a fool out of himself due to his alcohol, the example of “excellent judgment” is nullified. For most of Franklin’s examples that favor alcohol, he provides a counter-example against it. This conveys a negative attitude towards alcohol.
Any positivity towards alcohol is quickly followed by the detrimental effects. Franklin uses this style to show that intoxication may cause short term benefits – like increased charisma and excellent judgment – but generally leads to a downfall – such as rackish conversation and foolishness. This technique is effective, as it highlights the negatives of drinking that exceed the positives. Franklin’s view on alcohol, through the words of Silence Dogood, accurately represent the virtues he sought to follow. To Franklin, practicing temperance made him a better man. Due to this, he spread his ideas through Silence Dogood.
Benjamin Franklin’s “Silence Dogood” essays give readers a satirical account of social life as well as enabled Franklin to publish his works on his brother’s paper, the New England Courant. The fictional character Silence Dogood brings humor and sadness to the colonists’ everyday life. Ben Franklin is able to create a following that gradually increased throughout the writing of the fourteen publications. In his essay Number 2, Franklin introduces the characters and creates an in-depth background on Dogood’s life.
The second essay begins with an explanation of the relationship she had. This brings in the minister, a well-developed character that assists the story of Silence. After many small relationships, Dogood’s soon-to-be husband, the minister, ended up marrying Silence. Her acceptance to marriage, however, did not come so easily. Silence “…promis’d him [she] would take his Proposal into serious Consideration” and later she stated that she would “…speedily give him an answer.” Through things such as love and pride, he was able to persuade her to marriage. The couple later had three kids: two girls and a boy. She seems to brush over the fact, however, as she moves on to explain her husband’s death. The children are not brought up again in the essay, as her sadness and pain play a role in the concluding paragraphs. Though she was sad at her husband’s passing, she finishes by saying that she is ready to marry again, giving readers some insight on the traits of the widowed Dogood.
Ben Franklin’s second essay shines light on the back story of Silence. While it looks like she has an average life in the colonies, the unexpected passing of her husband changes her life drastically. Her story pulls readers to explore her life, and the death of her husband creates a sense of mourning in the community. One of the most important parts of the second essay is the final paragraph; she explains her characteristics and interests, which helps tie the reader to her, and ends up causing her essays to gain popularity.