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Bill Thayer

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Mr. Franklin Eats Some Eggs

Excerpt from the

Souvenirs de la Marquise de Créquy de 1710 à 1803,

(Paris, Garnier Frères, n. d. — ca. 1839)

Tome V, pp178‑180:

 p178  As for this Mr. Franklin who had seized the lightning from the Gods and the scepter from the Tyrants, as the Mercure said, adding that the Gods were the Tyrants of the Olympus, and that the Tyrants were the Gods of the Earth; I would tell you that I had the honor of meeting him but once. It was at a dinner at Madame de Tessé's, who had not forewarned me, and who had played me the trick of seating him next to me at the table.  p179 Impishly, I didn't address a single word to him, and besides, it seemed to me that I wouldn't have known what to say to this printer/bookseller? He had long hair like a seminarian from Quimper; he wore a brown suit, a brown vest and brown breeches of the same cloth, and his hands were of the same color; he wore a red-striped cravat; and the most remarkable thing I saw about him, was his way of dealing with fresh eggs. It consisted in emptying them out into his goblet and adding butter with salt and pepper and mustard; he used five or six of them to manufacture this nice Philadelphian stew,1 with which he fed himself by small spoonfuls. It is good to tell you also that in eating melon he didn't use a spoon, cutting it rather with a knife; ditto, he bit into asparagus rather than cutting off the tip with a knife on his plate, and eating it properly with a fork; you see that he was a sort of savage; but withal, my friend, just as each people has its institutions, its climate, its foods, its habits and customs proper to it, each nation must have its moral points of honour and its physical crudities, with good manners peculiar to it, and habitual oversights that another does not have. What made me pay attention to the doings and behavior of this American philosopher, was the boredom of hearing  p180 about him as being a social paragon and a marvel of cosmopolitan civilization. — How witty he is! He's just gone and said the most delightful thing, about Mr. Goesman! He said that it's easier for a donkey to deny, than for a philosopher to prove!!! Plus negaret asinus quam probaret philosophus, I replied to Mme de Coigny. — It's been near on a thousand years that that was said the first time; you weren't the first to break it in.

Mme de Créquy's Editor's Note:

1 We read in the latest work of Mistress Trollope that this strange manner of eating fresh eggs is still in general use throughout the United States.

Thayer's Note: except for the mustard, this in fact is how my American grandmother (1891‑1973) used to eat a soft-boiled egg; and my mother, her French daughter-in‑law (1919‑1992), used to react the same way.

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Page updated: 16 Apr 08