Patrice Higonnet

  • Benjamin Franklin and his Enemies by Robert Middlekauf
    California, 276 pp, £19.95, March 1996, ISBN 0 520 20268 6

‘Sloth, by bringing on Disease, absolutely shortens Life.’ ‘The cat in gloves catches no mice.’ ‘A watched pot never boils’. No one can wholly avoid hating ‘Old Daddy Franklin’, from whose Poor Richard’s Almanac these sayings come, especially if brought up to revere him in Public School, USA. Abraham Lincoln is the father of his people; George Washington, of his nation; but Benjamin Franklin – as it happens, a basically very decent man – hovers over the entire tradition of American ‘Babbittry’. Some subterranean but essential link runs from Poor Richard to Disneyland, Mozart on the muzak and the mailing of America.

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