Silence Dogood Essay #14

Between the first and eighth day of October in 1722, Benjamin Franklin published the fourteenth and final Silence Dogood letter in The New-England Courant. In this final letter, she (Franklin, writing as Dogood) openly airs her grievances against the Church, and the whole construct of organized religion. Some of the previous Dogood letters are written more like stories; setting up scenes with a progressing story line of sorts. In number fourteen, Dogood makes it clear whom she is pointing her finger at. She had already attacked organized religion and the Boston clergy in her ninth essay but this time she directs the attention to clergymen from Connecticut.

The attack on the Connecticut clergymen came from the news that they had a “turn of thought” and switched religious affiliations. He briefly changes his focus to a wider audience and says, “there are too many blind zealots among every Denomination of Christians; and he that propagates the Gospel among Rakes and Beaus without reforming them in their Morals, is every whit as ridiculous and impolitick as a State-man who makes Tools of Ideots and Tale-Bearers.” Here, Dogood is comparing the zealots of Christianity who spread the Gospel but fail to reflect it in their morals to states-men who hires idiots and gossipers (tale-bearers). With this, Dogood is cementing the idea that when religion becomes to organized and strict people become blind with zeal and end up doing more harm than good. This idea is further proven with a line from earlier in the letter that says, “an indiscreet zeal for spreading an opinion hurts the cause of the zealot.”

To wrap up the final letter, Dogood calls upon “two ingenious authors of the Church of England” and cites their work. The last source talks about the word “Church” and how it is the one word in our language that requires more explanation. Before ending the letter and the “Silence Dogood” series, the final quotes says that the confusion over “Church” has brought suffering the to the “cause of piety” as well as “the secular interest of clergymen” all because of “the general unexplained signification of the word Church.” This is the perfect way to end the series without actually saying anything. Franklin used this older text to solidify his discontent with the Church and ended the letter in such away that it left only the facts for the reader to think about.

Silence Dogood Essay #3

In essay number three published in April 1722 by Silence Dogood, Franklin emphasizes the notion that people should make it their duty to serve their country to the best of their abilities whatever that may be. He clearly states in the beginning of his essay that he has not quite lived up to this expectation in the past by stating: “I sincerely acknowledge that I hitherto been very deficient in this Particular”. Franklin also makes a point of noting that he (from a young age) has always been a studious individual who desires to gain all of the knowledge that he possibly can. He goes on to make his point that this knowledge has benefitted him because it has improved his mind and given him a greater understanding of the world.

One of the other main points of essay number three is to set the standards of the way that a writer should practice their craft. For example, in the third paragraph of the essay he discusses that while it is impossible for a writer to please every reader; they should try their best to do so. He states that writers should vary the themes, subjects, and styles of their writing in order to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Franklin makes this clear when he writes: “He that would (in this way of writing) please all, is under a necessity to make his themes almost as numerous as his letters”. It seems that Franklin is trying to relate writing to the first point of his essay, which was that people should make it their duty to serve their country to the best of their abilities. In this case, writers should be writing for the readers and not necessarily for themselves.

Franklin closes out his essay by discussing how he has finished his foundation, and that he intends to continue on working on himself to raise his “building”. He ends with calling himself the most humble and obedient of all servants. Overall, Franklin is making a point to his readers that they should make use of their abilities or craft in order to serve the greater good of the rest of their country and the people who live in it.

Silence Dogood, Essay #7

In Franklin’s seventh essay under his pseudonym of Silence Dogood, written in June of 1722, he discusses the apparent lack of great poetry in New England. Addressing the fact that many European foreigners who visit America say that “good poetry is not to be expected in New-England”, Franklin argues that this is not due to the lack of education in the colonies, or that New Englanders simply don’t have the minds to be good writers, but because of a lack of “Praise and Encouragement”. Franklin goes on to example samples of poetry which he considers “exceptional”, arguing that encouraging great poetry will result in more “excellent productions” which will incite Americans to “endeavour to discover to the World some of its Beautys”. Franklin goes on rather sardonically, admitting that many and most poets are “wretchedly Dull and Ridiculous” (as well as the very elegy he cites as “exceptional”), and goes on to detail how they may write a “good” elegy.

Franklin’s devotion to good writing and its popular publication is evident here, as is his sarcastic and teasing nature. Most profound in this essay is certainly his stress on beautiful poems and elegies; he quotes considerable excerpts from those which he considers “extraordinary” and stresses the importance of such poems being lauded, so that more beautiful written work may be produced, contributing to the culture and growth of New England and America as a whole. In truth, he is mocking this poem as well as New England poets on the whole. Despite the teasing nature of much of the essay, though, it is not to be doubted that Franklin ardently believed in the spread of well-written works, and such a belief can be seen in his personal practices to improve his own writing, and his later works and commitments throughout his life. Overall, his attitude in this essay reflects two key facets of his personality: his dedication to writing, and his satirical nature.

Silence Dogood Essay #1

One of Benjamin Franklin’s first publications was his Silence Dogood Essays on April 2, 1722. Franklin adopts the alias of “Silence Dogood” so he can print these stories and commentaries without his brother knowing. James Franklin, who was furious with Benjamin Franklin since he had outwitted the elder James in regards to his apprenticeship, would never allow his younger brother to gain fame from his writings in The New England Courant. Because of the censorship of his brother, Franklin adopts the pseudonym Silence Dogood.

In Benjamin Franklin’s first Silence Dogood Essays, he introduces the narrator of the fourteen-part essay that would be printed in his brother’s newspaper. It covers the circumstances of her birth and how her father died on that day, “…a merciless Wave entered the Ship, and in one Moment carry’d him beyond Reprieve.” Her mother sends her to apprentice with a minster, who instills the young girl virtues and a hunger for knowledge and reading. After two years being an apprentice to this minster, her mother dies and “leaving me as it were by my self, with no Relation on Earth within my knowledge.” Instead of going on and on about her life, Silence Dogood simply states she has had a good life full of “profit and pleasure” and ends the essay by saying that her humor should not be taken seriously and she does not aim to make anyone angry.

Franklin’s goal of this first letter is to establish who Silence Dogood is and why she is writing these letters and printing them in the newspaper. She is giving an account of her life and gives the reader a sense of who the author is. However, Franklin’s most important point comes at he end of the letter when he writes, “I am not insensible of the impossibility of pleasing all, but I would not willing displease any” Franklin is isolating his fictitious author from the threat of being censored by the Massachusetts Assembly. If he states these essays are not designed to insult, then the Assembly will have a difficult time to quiet this part of the newspaper if it is not malicious, but pokes fun at he government.

Silence Dogood Essay #2

When Franklin was still working as an apprentice for his brother James in the printing shop, he knew that James would never publish a piece of writing that he wrote in the Courant. He therefore developed a pseudonym for himself under the name Silence Dogood, and tricked his brother into publishing his work. I will be examining the second essay that was published on April 16th, 1772.

Silence Dogood was a woman whom began by describing her life story which continues into the second essay. She begins by stating that, “histories of lives are seldom entertaining, unless they are admirable or exemplar” and then explains that that her life is not all that interesting, so she doesn’t want to burden her readers with boring life stories. Therefore, instead she is going to give a brief summary of her life “in as few words as possible.” I believe that Franklin did this so that the reader understands that this piece of writing is not coming from anyone of importance, and was just for entertainment. This statement was rather ironic since later on Franklin’s life becomes extremely exemplar. However, Dogood then explains how her reverend asked her hand in marriage. At first, she states that she “burst out into an unmannerly laughter”. But she took the offer into consideration and accepted. Here, I think that Franklin was just trying to create an image for his readers, one that was entertaining and humorous.

Many people were not happy about the engagement, however she said that he made her fall in love with him. She explains that their marriage was indeed a wonderful one. They had two daughters and one son. Sadly, after only seven years of marriage her husband faced an “inexorable, unrelenting death”. She wants to remarry, but finds that there are no suitable men. She explains how she now spends all of her free time in conversation with her neighbors, or writing letters. She finishes the second letter by giving her readers a sense of her character. When describing some of these characteristics, she states that she is “an enemy to vice, and a friend to virtue…a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power… [and] jealous for the rights and liberties of my country”. I believe that although the majority of the story he has told so far is fictional, the characteristics he is describing here are describing himself. Franklin clearly demonstrates these characteristics, given that he was a major figure in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Many of Franklin’s main points he is making are his own person and political views. Lastly, I think that it is possible that Franklin made up the biography not only to trick his brother into printing it, but also to make his readers feel a connection to Dogood before he continues with the rest of his essays.

Silence Dogood Essay #13

Between September 17th and September 24th of 1722, Benjamin Franklin under the pseudonym of “Silence Dogood” writes and submits his thirteenth essay addressed to the author of the New England Courant. In this brief essay, Franklin writes in the character of a woman who describes her encounters with the people she observes as she travels around town on a “pleasant moonlight evening”. As the story progresses, Franklin smoothly shifts from exploring the imagination associated with adventure to questioning women and their natural craving for pleasure.
Throughout the essay, Franklin repeatedly references women that Dogood observes the night of her walk. Franklin first illuminates women when Dogood encounters a crowd of about twenty people and describes it as one that consists of “both genders”. Soon after first spotting the crowd, Dogood would once again draw attention to women when she engages in conversation with “one of the females” that pretends to know her. By continuously citing women enjoying themselves, Franklin promotes the escapism of late night adventure while enticing his female readers to seek pleasure outside of the home.
As Franklin describes the enjoyment of various groups Dogood encounters, he also revives the spirit of his readers who might otherwise hesitate seeking excitement outside of the home. An instance of this occurring is when Dogood recalls a memory in which a woman asks a shoe maker how long he expects her shoes to last. Replying to the woman’s question, the shoe maker tells her “that he knew how many days she might wear them, but not how many nights because they were then put to a more violent and irregular service than when she employed herself in the common affairs of the house”. By referring to the woman’s role in the home, Franklin intends to question the gender roles of his time. This particular passage serves as another example of how Franklin explores gender roles in addition to the livelihood of all middle class people. Although much of the essay seemed to be a “night’s ramble”, Franklin reminds his readers that his imagination gives him too much to write stating that anything more “would take up too much room in your paper”. Statements such as this one where Franklin communicates directly with the reader demonstrates how his writing style elicits interest. In doing so, Franklin succeeds in stressing the power of imagination and how it can be used to understand people around you. To conclude, Benjamin Franklin tells the story of his encounters on a walk after dark to prove the existence of imagination and adventure.

A Visit to the Print Shop of Edes & Gill

WIN_20160202_121406Our class visited the Print Shop of Edes & Gill, in the North End of Boston.  Proprietor Gary Gregory explained the printing trade, and Benjamin Franklin’s role as a printer.  Rachel Fancy and Alexander Marcus tried their hands at printing the Declaration of Independence.

For more on the Print Shop, here is their web-site:

Printing office of Edes & Gill


WIN_20160202_121123WIN_20160202_123044WIN_20160202_123129Then we signed a copy of the Declaration of Independence!

Silence Dogood – Essay Three

On the 13th of April in 1722, the third essay of Silence Dogood (the female alias of Benjamin Franklin) was written and submitted to be published in the New-England Courant. This beginning of the essay was written in a manner that acknowledged the fact that service to a country can be offered by all- whether it is accomplished in a physical way or intellectually. Dogood makes it known that “her [own] way” of service comes through her writing, especially her work moving forward in the New-England Courant publication, saying “I have from my Youth been indefatigably studious to gain and treasure up in my mind all useful and desireable knowledge… As I have found it very beneficial to me, I am not without Hopes, that communicating my small stalk in this manner [to the public] may be at least in some Measure useful”. In continuance, it is evident that her intellectual contribution is likely to be controversial (especially due to the fact that she is including her own topics and own opinions). She recognizes that she will not get the chance to be able to please each person who reads her essays, however she remains steadfast in her mission to try to discuss, incorporate and combine as many themes as she possibly can, hoping that at least one person at one time or another will be intrigued with or convinced by her works; Undoubtably, that is a tough feat. With this, she intends to be the a “foundation” of citizen empowerment and wishes that the readers of her publications will build upon her actions and contribute to their country in any way that they can, remembering that no matter what their efforts will be recognized and appreciated. Before concluding this essay, she gives the reader her word the she is speaking out from her heart and will continue to do so throughout the rest of her essay writing. She ends this particular essay having nothing left to say, however the significant impact that she is already beginning to make early on in her essay writing speaks many words, in itself.

Silence Dogood Essay #13

Essay thirteen of the Silence Dogood set was published sometime around September 17th to September 24th in 1772. In this particular essay, Silence Dogood (Benjamin Franklin) is telling her story of an evening where she had gone for a walk a bit later than normal and the people she encountered. In my opinion this essay reads like a story rather than a restating of actual events because as a reader the piece really keeps you interested about what will Dogood encounter next on this stroll. What also leads me to believe this is in the introduction to this essay Dogood (Franklin) discusses the “Things provoke the Exercise of the Imagination” which makes part of me wonder whether the events on this walk did occur or if they are mere fiction.

The thirteenth essay starts with Dogood commencing her stroll about two or three hours later than her usually time. As she continues on her walk she first runs into a group of young people around their twenties with the group consisting of both sexes. This initial group Dogood encounters she observes to be of little intelligence “render’d their Discourse not so intelligible”. This group also seems to be very interested in Dogood, one of them questions even questions the sex of Dogood.

After Dogood moves on from this group, she notices all the Doxies known today as prostitutes, and men that were possible costumers. Dogood never interacted with the “Tarpolins”(sailors) or their “Doxies”, Dogood does make a point that some men who are looking for possible mistresses seem to keep their head down as they “would be ever now and then crying out on the Cruelty of their Mistresses” saying that they were calling for them while not trying to be noticed as it seems.

Through this essay Franklin makes a few points, but presents them indirectly. However Franklin does strongly imply his thoughts in my opinion. One major point that is displayed in the essay the Doxies/Mistresses and the men who desire them only seem to come out at night when they won’t be seen. These men hide their secrets and possible shame in the dark of night in the Common. Another point that Franklin (Dogood) doesn’t directly make but I feel is implied is that the people of questionable morals or lacking intellectual means are the ones who gather at this time of night. Also that Dogood herself wouldn’t be wandering this late had her “Lodgings” had ended at the usual time, which helps to distance Dogood from this displeasing group of people.

Silence Dogood Essay #1

In the early 1700s, Benjamin Franklin wrote essays in a newspaper that were stories being told by a fictional character named Silence Dogood. I read and analyzed his very first essay by her. In this essay, Franklin starts off with a statement that almost sounds like a disclaimer, saying that what he is writing is for pure entertainment and he will begin by explaining the early life of Silence Dogood. By starting with this, it shows how Franklin wanted readers to begin with an open mind and understand that this is for pleasure reading.

Then, the reader learns that Silence Dogood’s parents both died; her father in a shipwreck, then a few years later, her mother died as well. Throughout this first essay, Silence Dogood talks about how living without a father caused her to have to help her mother, so she worked as a nurse. When her mother died, she continued to work but also spent time reading books and learning for pleasure. Right away, the reader is given enough background information about Silence Dogood to see she is a strong-willed woman who endured struggles but got through them anyway.

I think that Franklin started his letters with this one so that readers will learn enough about Silence Dogood that they will be interested, and just enough so that they will look forward to the next letter. Also, I think that some parts of Silence Dogood’s life can relate to Franklin’s life; as if he’s writing about himself but putting a twist on it so it isn’t completely obvious. Although Franklin’s parents didn’t die when he was young, he had little to no support from them so he was forced to go out and make his own living, much like Silence Dogood after her father died. Another similarity between the two is how Silence Dogood had a “master” that helped her out and let her use his library, much like Franklin had the mayor’s help when he went to Philadelphia. I think that the parallels between Silence Dogood’s life and Franklin’s life will become more noticeable as the letters continue.