For this assignment, read Mark Twain’s essay “The Late Benjamin Franklin”Next, in a 1-page essay, provide an analysis that identifies fallacious reasoning in the story and explain why.Resource: Twain, M. (1983). THE LATE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Saturday Evening Post, 255(2), 18-93. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.Be sure to proofread your paper to eliminate spelling and grammar errors18
Early to bed and early to rise may
make one healthy and wise, yet many a kid
made to measure up to Franklin’s
may wish the old inventor had kept his mouth
shut and stuck to flying kites.
by Mark Twain
March ’83
what Franklin has said, my son—’A
groat a day’s a penny a year’ ” ; and
the comfort is all gone out of those
peanuts. If he wants to spin his top
when he has done work, his father
quotes, “Procrastination is the thief
of time.” If he does a virtuous action, he never gets anything for it,
because “Virtue is its own reward.”
And that boy is hounded to death
and robbed of his natural rest, because Franklin said once, in one of
his inspired flights of malignity:
Early lo bed and early to rise
Makes a man healthy and wealthy
and wise.
Illustrated by Don Trawin
r*Iever put off till tomorrow what
you can do day after tomorrow just
his party was one of those persons whom they call Philosophers. He was twins, being born
simultaneously in two different
houses in the city of Boston. These
houses remain unto this day and
have signs upon them worded in accordance with the facts. The signs
are considered well enough to have,
though not necessary, because the
inhabitants point out the two birthplaces to the stranger anyhow, and
sometimes as often as several times
in the same day. The subject of this
memoir was of a vicious disposition
and early prostituted his talents to
the invention of maxims and aphorisms calculated to inflict suffering
upon the rising generation of all
subsequent ages. His simplest acts,
also, were contrived with a view to
their being held up for the emulation of boys forever—boys who
might otherwise have been happy. It
was in this spirit that he became the
son of a soap-boiler, and probably
for no other reason than that the efforts of all future boys
who tried to be anything
might be looked upon
with suspicion unless
they were the sons of soapboilers. With a malevolence
which is without parallel in
history, he would work all
day, and then sit up
nights, and let on to be
studying algebra by the
light of a smoldering fire, so
that all other boys might have to do
that also or else have Benjamin
Franklin thrown up to them. Not
satisfied with these proceedings, he
had a fashion of living wholly on
bread and water and studying astronomy at mealtime—a thing
which has brought affliction to millions of boys since, whose fathers
had read Franklin’s pernicious
His maxims were full of animosity toward boys. Nowadays a boy
cannot follow out a single natural
instinct without tumbling over some
of those everlasting aphorisms and
hearing from Franklin on the spot.
If he buys two cents’ worth of peanuts, his father says, “Remember
As if it were any object to a boy to
be healthy and wealthy and wise on
such terms. The sorrow that maxim
has cost me, through my parents experimenting on me with it, tongue
cannot tell. The legitimate result is
my present state of general debility,
indigence and mental aberration.
My parents used to have me up before nine o’clock in the morning
sometimes when I was a boy. If they
had let me take my natural rest,
where would 1 have been now?
Keeping store, no doubt, and respected by all.
And what an adroit old adventurer the subject of this memoir was! In
order to get a chance to fly his kite
on Sunday, he used to hang a key on
the string and let on to be fishing for
lightning. And a guileless public
would go home chirping about the
“wisdom” and the “genius” of the
hoary Sabbath-breaker. If anybody
caught him playing “mumble-peg”
by himself, after the age of 60, he
would immediately appear to be
ciphering out how the grass grew—
as if it was any of his business. My
grandfather knew him well, and he
says Franklin was always fixed—
always ready. If a body, during his
old age, happened on him unexpectedly when he was catching flies,
or making mud-pies, or sliding on a
cellar door, he would immediately
look wise, and rip out a maxim, and
walk off with his nose in the air and
his cap turned wrong side before,
trying to appear absent-minded and
eccentric. He was a hard lot.
He invented a stove that would
smoke your head off in four hours
by the clock. One can see the almost
devilish satisfaction he took in it by
continued on page 93
Franklin Humor
continued from page 18
his giving it his name.
To the subject of this memoir
belongs the honor of recommending
the army to go back to bows and arrows in place of bayonets and muskets. He observed that the bayonet
was very well under some circumstances, but that he doubted
whether it could be used with accuracy at a long range.
Benjamin Franklin did a great
many notable things for his country
and made her young name to be
honored in many lands as the mother of such a son. It is not the idea of
this memoir to ignore that or cover
it up. No; the simple idea of it is to
snub those pretentious maxims of
his, which he worked up with a great
show of originality out of truisms
that had become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from
Babel; and also to snub his stove
and his military inspirations, his
unseemly endeavor to make himself
conspicuous when he entered Philadelphia and his flying his kite and
fooling away his time in all sorts of
such ways when he ought to have
been foraging for soap-fat or constructing candles. I merely desired
to do away with somewhat of the
prevalent calamitous idea among
heads of famihes that Franklin acquired his great genius by working
for nothing, studying by moonlight
and getting up in the night instead
of waiting till morning; and that this
program, rigidly inflicted, will make
a Franklin of every father’s fool. It
is time these gentlemen were finding
out that these execrable eccentricities of instinct and conduct are only
the evidences of genius, not the
creators of it. I wish I had been the
father of my parents long enough to
make them comprehend this truth
and thus prepare them to let their
son have an easier time of it. When I
was a child, I had to boil soap, notwithstanding my father was wealthy,
and I had to get up early and study
geometry at breakfast and peddle my
own poetry and do everything Just as
Franklin did, in the solemn hope that
I would be a Franklin some day. And
here I am. K
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