Benjamin Franklin – Silence Dogood, No 4.

After talking to her Reverend Boarder about Educating her Son William (BTW, Benjamin Franklin later did have a son named William). Silence takes a walk and sits by an apple tree (not the same one George Washington supposedly cuts down) and dreams a dream. This letter is about the dream she dreamed.

After the dream, Benjamin then summarizes what the dream meant.

I reflected in my Mind on the extream Folly of those Parents, who, blind to their Childrens Dulness, and insensible of the Solidity of their Skulls, because they think their Purses can afford it, will needs send them to the Temple of Learning, where, for want of a suitable Genius, they learn little more than how to carry themselves handsomely, and enter a Room genteely, (which might as well be acquir’d at a Dancing-School,) and from whence they return, after Abundance of Trouble and Charge, as great Blockheads as ever, only more proud and self-conceited.

While I was in the midst of these unpleasant Reflections, Clericus (who with a Book in his Hand was walking under the Trees) accidentally awak’d me; to him I related my Dream with all its Particulars, and he, without much Study, presently interpreted it, assuring me, That it was a lively Representation of Harvard College, Etcetera. [Source: franklinpapers.org]

During the course of his dream, you learn that poverty, idleness and ignorance are the main reasons why people never make it to sit with Learning.

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