Assignment – Identify Logical Fallacies in a Text

Assignment – Identify Logical Fallacies in a Text

Click link to read Mark Twain’s essay “The Late Benjamin Franklin

Resource: Twain, M. (1983). THE LATE BENJAMIN FRANKLIN. Saturday Evening Post, 255(2), 18-93. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

In a 1-page essay, provide an analysis that identifies fallacious reasoning in the story and explain why.

Early to bed and early to rise may make one healthy and wise, yet many a kid

made to measure up to Franklin’s high-falutin’maxims may wish the old inventor had kept his mouth

shut and stuck to flying kites.


by Mark Twain Illustrated by Don Trawin

r*I\ever put off till tomorrow what you can do day after tomorrow just aswell.’^—B.F.}

T his party was one of those per-sons whom they call Philos- ophers. He was twins, being born simultaneously in two different houses in the city of Boston. These houses remain unto this day and have signs upon them worded in ac- cordance with the facts. The signs are considered well enough to have, though not necessary, because the inhabitants point out the two birth- places to the stranger anyhow, and

sometimes as often as several times in the same day. The subject of this memoir was of a vicious disposition and early prostituted his talents to the invention of maxims and apho- risms calculated to inflict suffering upon the rising generation of all subsequent ages. His simplest acts, also, were contrived with a view to their being held up for the emula- tion of boys forever—boys who might otherwise have been happy. It was in this spirit that he became the son of a soap-boiler, and probably for no other reason than that the ef-

forts of all future boys who tried to be anything

might be looked upon with suspicion unless

they were the sons of soap- boilers. With a malevolence which is without parallel in

history, he would work all day, and then sit up

nights, and let on to be studying algebra by the

light of a smoldering fire, so that all other boys might have to do that also or else have Benjamin Franklin thrown up to them. Not satisfied with these proceedings, he had a fashion of living wholly on bread and water and studying as- tronomy at mealtime—a thing which has brought affliction to mil- lions of boys since, whose fathers had read Franklin’s pernicious biography.

His maxims were full of animosi- ty toward boys. Nowadays a boy cannot follow out a single natural instinct without tumbling over some of those everlasting aphorisms and hearing from Franklin on the spot. If he buys two cents’ worth of pea- nuts, his father says, “Remember

what Franklin has said, my son—’A groat a day’s a penny a year’ ” ; and the comfort is all gone out of those peanuts. If he wants to spin his top when he has done work, his father quotes, “Procrastination is the thief of time.” If he does a virtuous ac- tion, he never gets anything for it, because “Virtue is its own reward.” And that boy is hounded to death and robbed of his natural rest, be- cause Franklin said once, in one of his inspired flights of malignity:

Early lo bed and early to rise Makes a man healthy and wealthy

and wise. Assignment – Identify Logical Fallacies in a Text

As if it were any object to a boy to be healthy and wealthy and wise on such terms. The sorrow that maxim has cost me, through my parents ex- perimenting on me with it, tongue cannot tell. The legitimate result is my present state of general debility, indigence and mental aberration. My parents used to have me up be- fore nine o’clock in the morning sometimes when I was a boy. If they had let me take my natural rest, where would 1 have been now? Keeping store, no doubt, and re- spected by all.

And what an adroit old adventur- er the subject of this memoir was! In order to get a chance to fly his kite on Sunday, he used to hang a key on the string and let on to be fishing for lightning. And a guileless public would go home chirping about the “wisdom” and the “genius” of the hoary Sabbath-breaker. If anybody caught him playing “mumble-peg” by himself, after the age of 60, he would immediately appear to be ciphering out how the grass grew— as if it was any of his business. My grandfather knew him well, and he says Franklin was always fixed— always ready. If a body, during his old age, happened on him unex- pectedly when he was catching flies, or making mud-pies, or sliding on a cellar door, he would immediately look wise, and rip out a maxim, and walk off with his nose in the air and his cap turned wrong side before, trying to appear absent-minded and eccentric. He was a hard lot.

He invented a stove that would smoke your head off in four hours by the clock. One can see the almost devilish satisfaction he took in it by

continued on page 93

Franklin Humor continued from page 18

his giving it his name. To the subject of this memoir

belongs the honor of recommending the army to go back to bows and ar- rows in place of bayonets and mus- kets. He observed that the bayonet was very well under some circum- stances, but that he doubted whether it could be used with ac- curacy at a long range.

Benjamin Franklin did a great many notable things for his country and made her young name to be honored in many lands as the moth- er of such a son. It is not the idea of this memoir to ignore that or cover it up. No; the simple idea of it is to snub those pretentious maxims of his, which he worked up with a great show of originality out of truisms that had become wearisome plati- tudes as early as the dispersion from Babel; and also to snub his stove and his military inspirations, his unseemly endeavor to make himself conspicuous when he entered Phila- delphia and his flying his kite and


fooling away his time in all sorts of such ways when he ought to have been foraging for soap-fat or con- structing candles. I merely desired to do away with somewhat of the prevalent calamitous idea among heads of famihes that Franklin ac- quired his great genius by working for nothing, studying by moonlight and getting up in the night instead of waiting till morning; and that this program, rigidly inflicted, will make a Franklin of every father’s fool. It is time these gentlemen were finding out that these execrable eccentric- ities of instinct and conduct are only the evidences of genius, not the creators of it. I wish I had been the father of my parents long enough to make them comprehend this truth and thus prepare them to let their son have an easier time of it. When I was a child, I had to boil soap, not- withstanding my father was wealthy, and I had to get up early and study geometry at breakfast and peddle my own poetry and do everything Just as Franklin did, in the solemn hope that I would be a Franklin some day. And here I am. K


SALT! Send For The






Only .16mg Sodium Per Teaspoon

Mail 251 for postage & handling lo: ANGOSTURA, Box 4 ,1745 Elizabeth Ave. Rahway, New Jersey 07065




Diet food doesn’t have to be cruel and unusual punishment.

In fact, it can provide unusual enjoyment. Assignment – Identify Logical Fallacies in a Text

Provided it’s one ot Weight Watchers* 26 delicious Frozen Meals.

For people with a pas- sion for pasta, there’s our zestyZiti. Drenched in tomato sauce, mouth- watering morsels of veal and mozzarella cheese.

There’s crunchy Southern Fried Chicken. Authentic Chinese Ftxid. And even Pizza.

With food like this on your diet, why would you ever want to go off it ?



Assignment – Identify Logical Fallacies in a Text