I’m currently reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I’d read some piece of it way back in the day – for school, of course – and Franklin was an interesting guy living in most interesting times. The thought of having to be on a boat for three days (in a storm) to go less than 200 miles must seem incredibly strange to the youngest generation today, but I can picture it in my eye just fine. People tend to focus on one thing only – “Why didn’t he just ride a horse?”, for instance – and forget that things like roads were also not then what they are now, and the boat, even with the slight delay of a storm, would be faster than horses, which would need to be fed and rested, and so on.
I found this passage, where Franklin displays some regional bias, very amusing.
“There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship. I had caught it by reading my father’s books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough.”
It seems Franklin did not think much of the men of Edinborough.