|While assisting his elder
brother James with their paper, the New England Courant, young
Benjamin Franklin was heavily influenced by the underlying
satirical tone of the paper itself. In 1722, he began writing
articles employing his own sarcasm toward the Puritan leaders of
Boston. He adopted the pseudonym Mrs. Silence Dogood, giving the
author a female role so as to make "her" comments and observations
all the more cutting. The name Dogood was invented in jest of the
venerable Cotton Mather, a Puritan priest who stressed his ideals
in his "Essays to do Good".
Mrs. Silence Dogood, the humble yet dignified widow of a country parson, wrote in a style filled with serious conclusions and clever humor. Her role was to inform the narrow-minded public of the art of doing good. She was very sensible and had experiences with the ways of the world. Silence Dogood's articles received immediate attention and acclaim from James Franklin and fellow editors. Once she established her ground in the field of journalism, the captivating writer began to utilize her literary prowess to the fullest extent. She exhibited her virtues and carped at the corruption and bad manners of Bostonian society, especially the conservatism of the wealthy young gentlemen at Harvard University.
The novice writer soon joined forces with James Franklin and other critics who greatly opposed the rich and powerful ways of the Puritan community. When James was imprisoned for his views, it was up to Benjamin to take the reins of the family paper, and he used his power to the fullest extent. The younger Franklin revealed the true identity of Mrs. Silence Dogood and boldly continued to publish his witty articles which had now become the center of Puritan attention.
The following is a sampling of Mrs. Silence Dogood's writing, in which the witty and clever widow shares her own wisdom on the art of drinking.
"Tis true, drinking does not improve our faculties, but it enables us to use them; and therefore I conclude that much study and experience, and a little liquor, are of absolute necessity for some tempers, in order to make them accomplished orators....The moderate use of liquor and a well-placed and well-regulated anger often produce this same effect; and some wits who cannot ordinarily talk but in broken sentences and false grammar do in the heat of passion express themselves with as much eloquence as warmth....But after all it must be considered that no pleasure can give satisfaction or prove advantageous to a reasonable mind which is not attended with the restraints of reason....'Tis strange to see men of a regular conversation become rakish and profane when intoxicated with drink, and yet more surprising to observe that some who appear to be the most profligate wretches when sober become mighty religious in their cups, and will then, and at no other time, address their Maker but when they are destitute of reason and actually affronting Him. Some shrink in the wetting, and others swell to such an unusual bulk in their imaginations that they can in an instant understand all arts and sciences, by the liberal education of a little vivifying punch or a sufficient quantity of other exhilarating liquor....It argues some shame in the drunkards themselves that they have invented numberless words and phrases to cover their folly, whose proper significations are harmless or have no signification at all. They are seldom known to be drunk, though they are very often boozy, cogey, tipsy, foxed, merry, mellow, fuddled, groatable, confoundedly cut, see two moons; are among the Philistines, in a very good humor, see the sun, or, the sun has shone upon them; they clip the King's English, are almost froze, feverish, in their altitudes, pretty well entered, etc. In short, every day produces some new word or phrase which might be added to the vocabulary of the tipplers. But I have chose to mention these few, because if at any time a man of sobriety and temperance happens to cut himself confoundedly, or is almost froze, or feverish, or accidentally sees the sun, etc., he may escape the imputation of being drunk, when his misfortune comes to be related.