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Massachusetts Historical Society | Silence Dogood: Benjamin Franklin in The New-England Courant

Silence Dogood essay 9: "Sir, It has been for some Time a Question with me ..."

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Silence Dogood essay 9: `Sir, It has been for some Time a Question with me ...`

In the ninth essay, Silence Dogood takes up the topic of religious hypocrisy. Appearing in the 16-23 July 1722 issue of The New-England Courant, the essay begins:

It has been for some Time a Question with me, Whether a Commonwealth suffers more by hypocritical Pretenders to Religion, or by the openly Profane? But some late Thoughts of this Nature, have inclined me to think, that the Hypocrite is the most dangerous Person of the Two, especially if he sustains a Post in the Government, and we consider his Conduct as it regards the Publick.

Later in the essay Dogood writes about the most dangerous hypocrite, "...one who leaves the Gospel for the sake of the Law: A Man compounded of Law and Gospel, is able to cheat a whole Country with his Religion, and then destroy them under Colour of Law . . . ." Many believed this passage was a reference to Joseph Dudley (1647-1720), who attended Harvard, graduating in 1655, and served as governor of Massachusetts from 1702-1715. However, some of Dogood's readers might have inferred this essay was satirizing the Mathers or Samuel Sewall, all powerful members of the Boston establishment. The essay ends with a long quote from an article about the weakness of human nature that was originally published in the London Journal, 27 May 1721, and then was reprinted in Cato's Letters.

To examine the entire newspaper, please see the online display of The New-England Courant, Number 51, 16-23 July 1722.

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