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Titan Leeds and the Great Almanac Hoax, Part 2, Blog#4B

Benjamin Franklin on Titan Leeds and the Great Almanac Hoax, Part 2, Blog #4B

To my faithful readers,

I must admit to you that when I finished writing the entry to last week’s blog, concerning the hoax I played on Mr. Titan Leeds regarding his Almanac, I was overcome with chuckling for full on five minutes.  There’s little that an old man so appreciates as the memory of his own wit and cleverness.

To continue the story, Mr. Leeds having excoriated me in the basest of terms for having suggested the precise day, date, and time of his demise, and having published said excoriation in his own almanac, it was my turn to respond. And I did.

In the next issue of my “Poor Richard’s Almanac,” I had every reason to state, or so I contended, that Mr. Leeds’s attack actually proved that he had indeed expired as I had predicted.  Let me explain by quoting my thoughts on this subject from my own Almanac for 1734:

“There is however, (and I cannot speak it without Sorrow)  the strongest Probability that my dear Friend is no more; for there appears in his Name, as I am assured, an Almanack for the Year 1734, in which I am treated in a very gross and unhandsome Manner; in which I am called a false Predicter, an Ignorant, a conceited Scribbler, a Fool, and a Lyar. Mr. Leeds was too well bred to use any Man so indecently and so scurrilously, and moreover his Esteem and Affection for me was extraordinary: So that it is to be feared, that Pamphlet may be only a Contrivance of somebody or other, who hopes perhaps to sell two or three Year’s Almanacks still, by the sole Force and Virtue of Mr. Leeds’s Name…(this is)…an unpardonable Injury to his Memory, and an Imposition upon the Publick.”

Titan Leeds and the Great Almanac Hoax – Blog #4A

Titan Leeds and the Great Almanac Hoax – Blog #4A

Greetings, Citizens, and thank you for your continued interest in my adventures. I present you my humblest apologies for having failed to get to this delicious story last week, and do hope you’ll find it enjoyable now.  It concerns my rivalry with a certain Titan Leeds, an almanac writer like myself and my biggest competitor in Philadelphia for readers. I wrote of Mr. Leeds in the previous two entries should you be curious and wish to refer to them.  The period in question is 1732, when I was 26 years of age.

Now Mr. Leeds was, as I knew, a very serious and self-important man.  I was certainly thinking of him when I made one of my “Ben Franklin Quotations,” “A man who falls in love with himself shall never lack for a suitor,” and made sure that this quote got into an edition of my “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”

In that first issue of “Poor Richard’s Almanac,”  I decided to poke and provoke the good Mr. Leeds.  Therefore, I printed the rather startling and unexpected prediction that Titan Leeds was going to die at a very exact time on a very specific day – October 17, 1733, at 3:29 pm!  Well he was so horrified by this perceived impertinence that he counter-blasted me in his own almanac in the most outraged terms conceivable.  I was, he said, “a Fool and a Lyar” and a scoundrel for having made such statements; a disgrace to the printing trade. He called my statement an outrageous, unsupportable attack and an indefensible breech of good taste and sputtered on, saying that nobody should buy my newspapers or my almanacs forthwith, and etc, ad infinitum.

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