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The Quotable Franklin, or, An Anecdote on Libido

August 13, 2012

November 15, 1813 – December 25th, 1813

John Adams to Thomas Jefferson: In 1775 Franklin made a morning Visit, at Mrs. Yards to Sam. Adams and John. He was unusually loquacious. “Man, a rational Creature”! said Franklin. “Come, Let Us suppose a rational Man. Strip him of all his Appetites, especially of his hunger and thirst. He is in his Chamber, engaged in making Experiments, or in pursuing some Problem. He is highly entertained. At this moment a Servant Knocks, “Sir, dinner is on Table.” “Dinner! Pox! Pough! But what have you for dinner?” Ham and Chickens. “Ham”! “And must I break the chain of my thoughts to go down and knaw a morsel of a damn’d Hogs Arse? “Put aside your Ham.” “I will dine tomorrow.”
    Take away Appetite and the present generation would not live a month and no future generation would ever exist. Thus the exalted dignity of human Nature would be annihilated and lost.

When none other than John Adams is laying down Ben Franklin parables, I feel like the world just got weirder. A legend in his own time.

This subject, by the way (including a few additional thoughts on procreation and the power of female beauty), was deemed not appropriate for all audiences. JA to TJ: As I have no Amanuenses but females, and there is so much about generation in this letter that I dare not ask any one of them to copy it, and I cannot copy it myself I must beg of you to return it to me . . .

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One Response to “The Quotable Franklin, or, An Anecdote on Libido”


  1. […] to TJ about Ben Franklin and his, ahem, “appetites,” (November 15, 1813, which I excerpted here) he closes with this gem: “As I have no Amanuenses but females, and there is so much about […]


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