Jan 17: Franklin's Family Tree

Franklin again? There are 49 volumes in the Harvard Classics. There have been 16 days in the year. We haven’t even touched Vol. 39, “Famous Prefaces”! (Which has a big water stain on the cover.) Yes, it’s Franklin’s birthday, but this smacks of the extremely un-Franklin vice of indolence.

“Good middle-class people, Franklin boasts, were his ancestors,” says the description…hey, that’s just like me, the guy building his Harvard Classics library by mail order! (I might also note that, if memory serves, they were the kind of good middle class people Franklin couldn’t wait to get the hell away from.)

Volume 1 (easy to reach), pp. 5-15. Let’s rock it.

-- Oh, it’s the beginning of the autobiography – the first page, practically, of the first volume. This is the most read page in the history of the Harvard Classics!
And I’m sure it has a Secretariat-at-Belmont lead over the next-most-read page. “Famous Prefaces,” itself practically a racehorse name, is way up the track.

--- Franklin’s uncle, for whom he was named, taught himself a shorthand. I should teach myself a shorthand. What am I doing reading this? On the other hand, I know how to type, so I’m smarter than Franklin. And I can drive a stick, so I’m smarter than Alexander Pope.

-- Franklin, like my son, was terrible in arithmetic and great in everything else. Now I’ve learned something practical!

-- Franklin also asserts the virtues of eating terrible food (which is, you don’t mind when you are served terrible food) – perhaps he is also the father of WASP cuisine as well as the postal service.

-- He also regrets reading a lot of theology when he was little. Also, attention bloggers: “[A] disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often ex

tremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship. I had caught it by reading my father’s books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough."

I think that’s supposed to be a ba-dum-bum right there.