Archive for the ‘Franklin, Benjamin’ Category

“Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive”

Readers, you have been introduced to MILCAH MARTHA MOORE as the author of a commonplace book into which she transcribed poems and letters by women she admired, a book which circulated among her friends. After the Revolution, Moore, who was a Quaker, published a book that became one of the most popular collections of readings for use in schools, entitled Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive. She included in the Preface Benjamin Franklin’s comment: “A BOOK containing so many well chosen sentiments, and excellent instructions, put into the hands of our children, cannot but be highly useful to the rising generation.” Moore established a school for indigent girls in Montgomery County and taught there until her death in 1829. She left an endowment to the school. Following are a few excerpts from the book.

BEAUTY is a short-lived flower, which is easily withered. A cultivated mind is a treasure which increases every moment; it is a rich soil, which brings forth a hundred fold.

THAT little incendiary, called the tongue, is more venomous than a poisoned arrow; and more killing than a two-edged sword.

THE use of learning is not to procure popular applause, or excite vain admiration; but to make the possessor more virtuous and useful to society, and his virtue a more conspicuous example to those that are illiterate.

WHO is wise? He that learns from every one. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content.

WE often overlook the blessings which are in our possession, to hunt after those which are out of our reach.

Book, published in 1787, digitized by Google from the library of the New York Public Library and uploaded to the Internet Archive by user tpb. It may be viewed HERE. Quoted material can be found on pp. iv, 10, 17, 35, and 50.

posted August 9th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Education,Franklin, Benjamin,Moore, Milcah Martha,Quakers,Religion

“The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy”

As a change of pace, I would like to direct your attention to a cookbook that was published in England in 1747 and continued in its many editions to be popular for nearly a century afterwards. It circulated in the American colonies and in the independent nation that followed. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson had copies. An edition was published in the United States in 1805. Written by “a Lady” who was in fact HANNAH GLASSE (1708-1770), it was titled The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy; Which far exceeds any Thing of the Kind yet published. In a note “To the Reader” Glasse explained that her book was written in a simple style as it was directed to servants and “the lower sort.”

To The Reader.
I believe I have attempted a branch of Cookery which nobody has yet thought worth their while to write upon: but as I have both seen, and found, by experience, that the generality of servants are greatly wanting in that point, therefore I have taken upon me to instruct them in the best manner I am capable; and, I dare say, that every servant who can but read will be capable of making a tolerable good cook, and those who have the least notion of Cookery cannot miss of being very good ones.

If I have not wrote in the high polite style, I hope I shall be forgiven; for my intention is to instruct the lower sort, and therefore must treat them in their own way. For example: when I bid them lard a fowl, if I should bid them lard with large lardoons, they would not know what I meant; but when I say they must lard with little pieces of bacon, they know what I mean. So, in many other things in Cookery, the great cooks have such a high way of expressing themselves, that the poor girls are at a loss to know what they mean: and in all Receipt Books yet printed, there are such an odd jumble of things as would quite spoil a good dish; and indeed some things so extravagant, that it would be almost a shame to make use of them, when a dish can be made full as good, or better, without them. . . .

Glasse went on to criticize the French for their extravagance.

A Frenchman in his own country will dress a fine dinner of twenty dishes, and all genteel and pretty, for the expence he will put an English lord to for dressing one dish. But then there is the little petty profit. I have heard of a cook that used six pounds of butter to fry twelve eggs; when every body knows (that understands cooking) that half a pound is full enough, or more than need be used; but then it would not be French. So much is the blind folly of this age, that they would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook! . . .

I shall say no more, only hope my Book will answer the ends I intend it for; which is to improve the servants, and save the ladies a great deal of trouble.

More on the cookbook in the next post.

Read Glasse’s cookbook online HERE.

posted July 16th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Food,Franklin, Benjamin,Glasse, Hannah,Housekeeping,Jefferson, Thomas,Washington, George

” the grand Artillery of Heaven”

HANNAH WINTHROP and her husband were able to move back into their house in Cambridge after having fled to Andover following the battles of Lexington and Concord. MERCY OTIS WARREN paid a visit to her friends for which Hannah sent a letter expressing her thanks in June 1775. Hannah included a description of lightning bells in this paragraph which is of special interest.

With a painfull anxiety I parted with my dear Friend Mrs. Warren last thursday evening, & very soon found the rising Sable Cloud predicting a Rougher Scene than those happy moments afforded us in the warm Effusions of reciprocal Friendship with which the day had blest us. We had a convincing display of the Utility of pointed Conductors by the ringing of our Lightning Bells which I wish you had seen, though to some persons it appears in a Presumptous light for mortals to meddle with the grand Artillery of Heaven.

Hannah is describing an approaching storm with flashes of lightning. She makes reference to lightning rods, the “pointed Conductors” advocated by Benjamin Franklin to ground lightning and render it harmless. These tall pointed metal rods were usually attached to a house’s chimney. (There was disagreement over whether the rods should be pointed or blunt. Franklin preferred pointed.) In the Winthrop house the rods were connected to a set of bells activated by the discharge of electricity from the lightning which caused clappers to move back and forth between two oppositely charged bells. In this way Franklin converted electrical energy into mechanical energy. Hannah’s husband was a scientist and astronomer so it stands to reason that he would be interested in these “Lightning Bells.” For more complete explanations of how these worked see this article and this article.

Note Hannah’s comment that many people frowned on this sort of experimentation with lightning believing it was not for mortals “to meddle with the grand Artillery of Heaven.”

Read the entire letter by Hannah HERE. The illustration is from this ARTICLE.

posted April 19th, 2018 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Warren, Mercy Otis,Weather,Winthrop, Hannah Fayerweather

“Encrease and Multiply” says Polly Baker

In 1747 the following purported to be the plea of a woman accused of having multiple children out of wedlock before a Connecticut court, making the case that she should not be fined or otherwise punished. It appeared in publications in Scotland, London, then in Boston and New York. No one knew if Polly Baker was real or who had written the speech. Nevertheless, the piece circulated far and wide, generating discussions of marriage, out-of-wedlock births, divorce, and the punishment due offenders. Abbé Raynal, a French ex-cleric and writer included it in his work Histoire Philosophique et Politique, 1770, questioning the severity of New England laws.

The Speech of MISS POLLY BAKER, before a Court of Judicature, at Connecticut near Boston in New-England; where she was prosecuted the Fifth Time, for having a Bastard Child: Which influenced the Court to dispense with her Punishment, and induced one of her Judges to marry her the next Day.

May it please the Honourable Bench to indulge me in a few Words: I am a poor unhappy Woman, who have no Money to fee Lawyers to plead for me, being hard put to it to get a tolerable Living. I shall not trouble your Honours with long Speeches; for I have not the Presumption to expect, that you may, by any Means, be prevailed on to deviate in your Sentence from the Law, in my Favour. All I humbly hope is, That your Honours would charitably move the Governor’s Goodness on my Behalf, that my Fine may be remitted. This is the Fifth Time, Gentlemen, that I have been dragg’d before your Court on the same Account; twice I have paid heavy Fines, and twice have been brought to Publick Punishment, for want of Money to pay those Fines. This may have been agreeable to the Laws, and I don’t dispute it; but since Laws are sometimes unreasonable in themselves, and therefore repealed, and others bear too hard on the Subject in particular Circumstances; and therefore there is left a Power somewhat to dispense with the Execution of them; I take the Liberty to say, That I think this Law, by which I am punished, is both unreasonable in itself, and particularly severe with regard to me, who have always lived an inoffensive Life in the Neighbourhood where I was born, and defy my Enemies (if I have any) to say I ever wrong’d Man, Woman, or Child. Abstracted from the Law, I cannot conceive (may it please your Honours) what the Nature of my Offence is. I have brought Five fine Children into the World, at the Risque of my Life; I have maintain’d them well by my own Industry, without burthening the Township, and would have done it better, if it had not been for the heavy Charges and Fines I have paid. Can it be a Crime (in the Nature of Things I mean) to add to the Number of the King’s Subjects, in a new Country that really wants People? I own it, I should think it a Praise-worthy, rather than a punishable Action. I have debauched no other Woman’s Husband, nor enticed any Youth; these Things I never was charg’d with, nor has any one the least Cause of Complaint against me, unless, perhaps, the Minister, or Justice, because I have had Children without being married, by which they have missed a Wedding Fee. But, can ever this be a Fault of mine? I appeal to your Honours. You are pleased to allow I don’t want Sense; but I must be stupified to the last Degree, not to prefer the Honourable State of Wedlock, to the Condition I have lived in. I always was, and still am willing to enter into it; and doubt not my behaving well in it, having all the Industry, Frugality, Fertility, and Skill in Oeconomy, appertaining to a good Wife’s Character. I defy any Person to say, I ever refused an Offer of that Sort: On the contrary, I readily consented to the only Proposal of Marriage that ever was made me, which was when I was a Virgin; but too easily confiding in the Person’s Sincerity that made it, I unhappily lost my own Honour, by trusting to his; for he got me with Child, and then forsook me: That very Person you all know; he is now become a Magistrate of this Country; and I had Hopes he would have appeared this Day on the Bench, and have endeavoured to moderate the Court in my Favour; then I should have scorn’d to have mention’d it; but I must now complain of it, as unjust and unequal, That my Betrayer and Undoer, the first Cause of all my Faults and Miscarriages (if they must be deemed such) should be advanc’d to Honour and Power in the Government, that punishes my Misfortunes with Stripes and Infamy. I should be told, ’tis like, That were there no Act of Assembly in the Case, the Precepts of Religion are violated by my Transgressions. If mine, then, is a religious Offence, leave it to religious Punishments. You have already excluded me from the Comforts of your Church-Communion. Is not that sufficient? You believe I have offended Heaven, and must suffer eternal Fire: Will not that be sufficient? What Need is there, then, of your additional Fines and Whipping? I own, I do not think as you do; for, if I thought what you call a Sin, was really such, I could not presumptuously commit it. But, how can it be believed, that Heaven is angry at my having Children, when to the little done by me towards it, God has been pleased to add his Divine Skill and admirable Workmanship in the Formation of their Bodies, and crown’d it, by furnishing them with rational and immortal Souls. Forgive me, Gentlemen, if I talk a little extravagantly on these Matters; I am no Divine, but if you, Gentlemen, must be making Laws, do not turn natural and useful Actions into Crimes, by your Prohibitions. But take into your wise Consideration, the great and growing Number of Batchelors in the Country, many of whom from the mean Fear of the Expences of a Family, have never sincerely and honourably courted a Woman in their Lives; and by their Manner of Living, leave unproduced (which is little better than Murder) Hundreds of their Posterity to the Thousandth Generation. Is not this a greater Offence against the Publick Good, than mine? Compel them, then, by Law, either to Marriage, or to pay double the Fine of Fornication every Year. What must poor young Women do, whom Custom have forbid to solicit the Men, and who cannot force themselves upon Husbands, when the Laws take no Care to provide them any; and yet severely punish them if they do their Duty without them; the Duty of the first and great Command of Nature, and of Nature’s God, Encrease and Multiply. A Duty, from the steady Performance of which, nothing has been able to deter me; but for its Sake, I have hazarded the Loss of the Publick Esteem, and have frequently endured Publick Disgrace and Punishment; and therefore ought, in my humble Opinion, instead of a Whipping, to have a Statue erected to my Memory.

In late 1777 or early 1778 Abbé Raynal visited Benjamin Franklin, who was in Paris seeking French aid for the American Revolution, and found him in the company of Silas Deane, an American diplomat. Raynal and Deane entered into a discussion of the veracity of the Baker plea. After listening to the debate for some time, Franklin broke in addressing Raynal: “M. l’Abbé, I am going to set you straight. When I was young and printed a newspaper, it sometimes happened, when I was short of material to fill my sheet, that I amused myself by making up stories, and that of Polly Baker is one of the number.” This anecdote made the rounds and the plea’s authorship was confirmed by several people close to Franklin. The piece, though humorous, had the effect of supporting the movement for social reforms.

When Franklin was a teenager he worked for his brother James who published a weekly newspaper in Boston. Young Benjamin, for fun, began secretly submitting articles, fourteen in all, as “Silence Dogood,” a fictitious widow. Her musings were hugely popular, and she received several marriage proposals. When brother James found out that Benjamin was the author he was furious leading Franklin to leave Boston the next year and strike out on his own in Philadelphia.

The Speech of Miss Polly Baker, 15 April 1747,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-03-02-0057. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 3, January 1, 1745, through June 30, 1750, ed. Leonard W. Labaree. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961, pp. 120–125.] Image of Franklin in his “frontiersman” attire by Johann Martin Will (1777), The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

posted October 14th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Deane, Silas,Franklin, Benjamin

“a Lad . . . engaged in the sea service”

CATHARINE LIVINGSTON undertook the responsibility of contacting Benjamin Franklin, at the time Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States to France, concerning the fate of her brother John Lawrence. Catharine was the daughter of William Livingston, the governor of New Jersey, and the elder sister of Sarah Livingston Jay. The Livingston family was exceedingly concerned as they had not heard from their son/brother who was a midshipman on the Saratoga in nearly a year.

Phila. Octr 19 [17]81Not long since I had the pleasure of forwarding a letter from my Father to your Excellency, but as the casualties attending the receipt of letters in War time are many, it may not reach you Sir before this, if at all— And being furnished with a very favorable opportunity by the gentleman* who will honor me with the care of this, I hope you will excuse the liberty of my troubling you Sir, with a few lines; to which I am encouraged by the attention the American Minister has shewn to his unfortunate Countrymen, & my great anxiety for a Captive Brother; now a Prisoner in some part of England; late a Midshipman on board the Saratoga—Third & youngest Son of William Livingston’s—a Lad of about 19 years of age, inspired by the example of his fellow countrymen, engaged in the sea service, with a view to assist in humbling Americas proud Foes, & restoring peace & liberty to their Republic—

The purport of my father’s letter, was Sir, to request your interest in releiving & effecting as far as in your power his Sons exchange. It is near a twelve month since my Brother left America, & no particulars has reached his family respecting his fate, but the capture of the Ship in which he sailed; for many months we suffered much on his account, those less interested than his relatives, gave up all Idea of ever hearing of the saratoga— our hope was a remote one, & would admit only of the cruel alternative of capture— my brothers situation is particularly unfortunate to him, as he has not for a few years past enjoy’d his health except at Sea, tho naturally sound & strong constitution’d—but impaired in being often exposed in the frequent incursions of the Enemy in New Jersey the State of his residence—nor can he flatter himself that he will find friends in a country to which his father is so notoriously an Enemy to—

Any releif that he experiences in consequence of your Excellency’s exertions in his favor, will be gratefully acknowledged by his Family & Friends, & particularly so by his affectionate Sister, & your very obliged Friend & Admirer

Catharine W Livingston

P.S. My Brothers name is John Lawrence Livingston

* Matthew Ridley, whom Catharine later married.

It was later learned that John Livingston was not a prisoner of war but was lost at sea with all his shipmates when the Saratoga was sunk. Such a long time to discover the truth, for a family to hope, and then to mourn. Not at all uncommon at that time.

“To Benjamin Franklin from Catharine W. Livingston, 19 October 1781,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified October 5, 2016, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-35-02-0464. [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 35, May 1 through October 31, 1781, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999, pp. 611–612.]

posted January 9th, 2017 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Franklin, Benjamin,Livingston, Catharine "Kitty"

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