Herder und Franklin

Für Herder ist Benjamin Franklin ein  Vorbild eines tatkräftigen, humanistisch gesinnten Mannes und er empfiehlt, die Schriften von Franklin zu lesen.

Als Einstieg wählen wir einen Dialog zwischen Franklin und seiner Gicht ( siehe online Gutenberg-Bücherei  die Sammlung von Essays  )

Dialogue between Franklin and the Gout

Midnight, 22. October 1780

Franklin leidet unter einem Gichtanfall und beklagt sich bei der Gicht. Die Gicht erwidert, dass er zu viel ißt und  sich zu wenig körperlich bewegt.

Franklin rechnet in amüsanter Form mit seinen eigenen Schwächen ab und belehrt damit seine Leser ohne erhobenen Zeigefinger, dass sie ihre eigene Lebensweise einmal betrachten und wenn nötig verbessern.

Midnight, 22 October, 1780.

FRANKLIN. Eh! Oh! eh! What have I done to merit these cruel sufferings?

GOUT. Many things; you have ate and drank too freely, and too much
indulged those legs of yours in their indolence.

FRANKLIN. Who is it that accuses me?

GOUT. It is I, even I, the Gout.

FRANKLIN. What! my enemy in person?

GOUT. No, not your enemy.

FRANKLIN. I repeat it, my enemy; for you would not only torment my body
to death, but ruin my good name; you reproach me as a glutton and a
tippler; now all the world, that knows me, will allow that I am neither
the one nor the other.

GOUT. The world may think as it pleases; it is always very complaisant
to itself, and sometimes to its friends; but I very well know that the
quantity of meat and drink proper for a man, who takes a reasonable
degree of exercise, would be too much for another, who never takes any.

FRANKLIN. I take–eh! oh!–as much exercise–eh!–as I can, Madam Gout.
You know my sedentary state, and on that account, it would seem, Madam
Gout, as if you might spare me a little, seeing it is not altogether my
own fault.

GOUT. Not a jot; your rhetoric and your politeness are thrown away; your
apology avails nothing. If your situation in life is a sedentary one,
your amusements, your recreation, at least, should be active.

You ought to walk or ride; or, if the weather prevents that, play at billiards.
But let us examine your course of life.

While the mornings are long, and you have leisure to go abroad, what do you do? Why, instead of gaining an appetite for breakfast, by salutary exercise, you amuse yourself with
books, pamphlets, or newspapers, which commonly are not worth the

Yet you eat an inordinate breakfast, four dishes of tea, with cream, and one or two buttered toasts, with slices of hung beef, which I fancy are not things the most easily digested. Immediately afterwards you sit down to write at your desk, or converse with persons who apply to you on business.

Thus the time passes till one, without any kind of bodily exercise. But all this I could pardon, in regard, as you say, to your sedentary condition. But what is your practice after dinner?
Walking in the beautiful gardens of those friends with whom you have
dined would be the choice of men of sense; yours is to be fixed down to
chess, where you are found engaged for two or three hours!

This is your perpetual recreation, which is the least eligible of any for a sedentary
man, because, instead of accelerating the motion of the fluids, the
rigid attention it requires helps to retard the circulation and obstruct
internal secretions. Wrapt in the speculations of this wretched game,
you destroy your constitution.

What can be expected from such a course of living, but a body replete with stagnant humors, ready to fall prey to all kinds of dangerous maladies, if I, the Gout, did not occasionally bring you relief by agitating those humors, and so purifying or
dissipating them?

If it was in some nook or alley in Paris, deprived of walks, that you played awhile at chess after dinner, this might be excusable; but the same taste prevails with you in Passy, Auteuil, Montmartre, or Sanoy, places where there are the finest gardens and
walks, a pure air, beautiful women, and most agreeable and instructive
conversation; all which you might enjoy by frequenting the walks.

But these are rejected for this abominable game of chess. Fie, then, Mr.
Franklin! But amidst my instructions, I had almost forgot to administer
my wholesome corrections; so take that twinge,–and that.

FRANKLIN. Oh! eh! oh! Ohhh! As much instruction as you please, Madam
Gout, and as many reproaches; but pray, Madam, a truce with your

GOUT. No, Sir, no,–I will not abate a particle of what is so much for
your good,–therefore—-

FRANKLIN. Oh! ehhh!–It is not fair to say I take no exercise, when I do
very often, going out to dine and returning in my carriage.

GOUT. That, of all imaginable exercises, is the most slight and
insignificant, if you allude to the motion of a carriage suspended on

By observing the degree of heat obtained by different kinds of
motion, we may form an estimate of the quantity of exercise given by

Thus, for example, if you turn out to walk in winter with cold
feet, in an hour’s time you will be in a glow all over; ride on
horseback, the same effect will scarcely be perceived by four hours‘
round trotting; but if you loll in a carriage, such as you have
mentioned, you may travel all day and gladly enter the last inn to warm
your feet by a fire.

Flatter yourself then no longer, that half an hour’s airing in your carriage deserves the name of exercise. Providence has appointed few to roll in carriages, while he has given to all a pair of legs, which are machines infinitely more commodious and serviceable.
Be grateful, then, and make a proper use of yours. Would you know how
they forward the circulation of your fluids, in the very action of
transporting you from place to place; observe when you walk, that all
your weight is alternately thrown from one leg to the other; this
occasions a great pressure on the vessels of the foot, and repels their
contents; when relieved, by the weight being thrown on the other foot,
the vessels of the first are allowed to replenish, and, by a return of
this weight, this repulsion again succeeds; thus accelerating the
circulation of the blood.

The heat produced in any given time depends on the degree of this acceleration; the fluids are shaken, the humors attenuated, the secretions facilitated, and all goes well; the cheeks
are ruddy, and health is established. Behold your fair friend at Auteuil; a lady who received from bounteous nature more really useful science than half a dozen such pretenders to philosophy as you have been able to extract from all your books. When she honors you with a visit, it is on foot.

She walks all hours of the day, and leaves indolence, and its concomitant maladies, to be endured by her horses. In this, see at once the preservative of her health and personal charms. But when you go to Auteuil, you must have your carriage, though it is no farther from Passy to Auteuil than from Auteuil to Passy.

FRANKLIN. Your reasonings grow very tiresome.

GOUT. I stand corrected. I will be silent and continue my office; take
that, and that.

FRANKLIN. Oh! Ohh! Talk on, I pray you.

GOUT. No, no; I have a good number of twinges for you to-night, and you
may be sure of some more to-morrow.

FRANKLIN. What, with such a fever! I shall go distracted. Oh! eh! Can no
one bear it for me?

GOUT. Ask that of your horses; they have served you faithfully.

FRANKLIN. How can you so cruelly sport with my torments?

GOUT. Sport! I am very serious. I have here a list of offenses against
your own health distinctly written, and can justify every stroke
inflicted on you.

FRANKLIN. Read it then.

GOUT. It is too long a detail; but I will briefly mention some

FRANKLIN. Proceed. I am all attention.

GOUT. Do you remember how often you have promised yourself, the
following morning, a walk in the grove of Boulogne, in the garden de la
Muette, or in your own garden, and have violated your promise, alleging,
at one time, it was too cold, at another too warm, too windy, too moist,
or what else you pleased; when in truth it was too nothing, but your
insuperable love of ease?

FRANKLIN. That I confess may have happened occasionally, probably ten
times in a year.

GOUT. Your confession is very far short of the truth; the gross amount
is one hundred and ninety-nine times.

FRANKLIN. Is it possible?

GOUT. So possible, that it is fact; you may rely on the accuracy of my
statement. You know M. Brillon’s gardens, and what fine walks they
contain; you know the handsome flight of an hundred steps, which lead
from the terrace above to the lawn below.

You have been in the practice of visiting this amiable family twice a week, after dinner, and it is a maxim of your own, that „a man may take as much exercise in walking a mile, up and down stairs, as in ten on level ground.“ What an opportunity was here for you to have had exercise in both these ways! Did you embrace it, and how often?

FRANKLIN. I cannot immediately answer that question.

GOUT. I will do it for you; not once.

FRANKLIN. Not once?

GOUT. Even so. During the summer you went there at six o’clock. You
found the charming lady, with her lovely children and friends, eager to
walk with you, and entertain you with their agreeable conversation; and
what has been your choice?

Why, to sit on the terrace, satisfy yourself with the fine prospect, and passing your eye over the beauties of the garden below, without taking one step to descend and walk about in them.
On the contrary, you call for tea and the chess-board; and lo! you are
occupied in your seat till nine o’clock, and that besides two hours‘
play after dinner; and then, instead of walking home, which would have
bestirred you a little, you step into your carriage.

How absurd to suppose that all this carelessness can be reconcilable with health,
without my interposition!

FRANKLIN. I am convinced now of the justness of Poor Richard’s remark,
that „Our debts and our sins are always greater than we think for.“

GOUT. So it is. You philosophers are sages in your maxims, and fools in
your conduct.

FRANKLIN. But do you charge among my crimes, that I return in a carriage
from M. Brillon’s?

GOUT. Certainly; for, having been seated all the while, you cannot
object the fatigue of the day, and cannot want therefore the relief of a

FRANKLIN. What then would you have me do with my carriage?

GOUT. Burn it if you choose; you would at least get heat out of it once
in this way; or, if you dislike that proposal, here’s another for you;
observe the poor peasants, who work in the vineyards and grounds about
the villages of Passy, Auteuil, Chaillot, etc.; you may find every day
among these deserving creatures, four or five old men and women, bent
and perhaps crippled by weight of years, and too long and too great

After a most fatiguing day, these people have to trudge a mile or
two to their smoky huts. Order your coachman to set them down. This is
an act that will be good for your soul; and, at the same time, after
your visit to the Brillons, if you return on foot, that will be good for
your body.

FRANKLIN. Ah! how tiresome you are!

GOUT. Well, then, to my office; it should not be forgotten that I am
your physician. There.

FRANKLIN. Ohhh! what a devil of a physician!

GOUT. How ungrateful you are to say so! Is it not I who, in the
character of your physician, have saved you from the palsy, dropsy, and
apoplexy? one or other of which would have done for you long ago, but
for me.

FRANKLIN. I submit, and thank you for the past, but entreat the
discontinuance of your visits for the future; for, in my mind, one had
better die than be cured so dolefully.

Permit me just to hint, that I have also not been unfriendly to _you_. I never feed physician or quack of any kind, to enter the list against you; if then you do not leave me
to my repose, it may be said you are ungrateful too.

GOUT. I can scarcely acknowledge that as any objection. As to quacks, I
despise them; they may kill you indeed, but cannot injure me. And, as to
regular physicians, they are at last convinced that the gout, in such a
subject as you are, is no disease, but a remedy; and wherefore cure a
remedy?–but to our business,–there.

FRANKLIN. Oh! oh!–for Heaven’s sake leave me! and I promise faithfully
never more to play at chess, but to take exercise daily, and live

GOUT. I know you too well. You promise fair; but, after a few months of
good health, you will return to your old habits; your fine promises will
be forgotten like the forms of the last year’s clouds. Let us then
finish the account, and I will go. But I leave you with an assurance of
visiting you again at a proper time and place; for my object is your
good, and you are sensible now that I am your _real friend_.


  • welchen Eindruck gewinnen wir von Franklin
  • stellt er die Fakten richtig dar
  • sind seine Schlussfolgerungen richtig
  • hat er einen gut lesbaren Schreibstil
  • was können wir daraus lernen

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