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

Silence Dogood essay 7: "Sir, It has been the Complaint of many Ingenious Foreigners ..."

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Silence Dogood essay 7: `Sir, It has been the Complaint of many Ingenious Foreigners ...`

Silence Dogood delivered a classic satire of a New England funeral elegy in the seventh essay, appearing in the 18-25 June 1722 issue of The New-England Courant. The first part of this essay is devoted to an insincerely flattering description of a particularly bad example, An Elegy upon the much Lamented Death of Mrs. Mehitable Kitel, Wife of Mr. John Kitel of Salem, &c. "It may justly be said in Praise, without Flattery to the Author," Dogood writes, "that it is the most Extraordinary Piece that ever was wrote in New-England."

Claiming to have inherited it from her late husband, a minister, the Widow Dogood follows with a "receipt" (recipe) for an elegy:

Having chose the Person, take all his Virtues, Excellencies, &c. and if he have not enough, you may borrow some to make up a sufficient Quantity: To these add his last Words, dying Expressions, &c. if they are to be had; mix all these together, and be sure you strain them well. Then season all with a Handful or two of Melancholly Expressions, such as Dreadful, Deadly, cruel cold Death, unhappy Fate, weeping Eyes, &c. Have mixed all these Ingredients well, put them into the empty Scull of some young Harvard ... .

To examine the entire newspaper, please see the online display of The New-England Courant, Number 47, 18-25 June 1722.

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