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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

Franklin and the Barber

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America.

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -


Franklin and the BarberOn Dr. Franklin’s arrival at Paris, as plenipotentiary from the United States, during the Revolution, the King Expressed a wish to see him immediately. As there was no going to the Court of France in those days without permission of the wigmaker, a wigmaker of course was sent for. In an instant, a richly-dressed Monsieur, his arms folded in a prodigious muff of furs, and a long sword by his side, made his appearance. It was the King’s wigmaker, with his servant in a livery, a long sword by his side too, a load of sweet-scented bandboxes, full of “de wig,” as he said “de superb wig for de great Docteer Franklin.” One of the wigs was tried on – a world too small! Bandbox after bandbox was tried; but all the same ill success. The wigmaker fell into the most violent rage, to the extreme mortification of Doctor Franklin, that a gentleman so bedecked with silks and perfumes, should, notwithstanding, be such a child. Presently, however, as in all the transports of a grand discover, the wigmaker cried out that he knew where the fault lay – “Not in his wig as too small; oh, no! his wig no too small, but de Docteer’s head, too big; great deal too big.” Franklin, smiling, replied that the fault could hardly lie there; for that his head was made by God Almighty himself, who was not subject to err. Upon this the wigmaker took in a little; but still contended that there must be something the matter with Doctor Franklin’s head. It was at any rate, he said, out of de fashion. He begged Dr. Franklin would only please for remember, dat his head had not de honneet to be made in parree. No! for fit bin made in Parree, it no bin more dan half such a head. None of de French noblesse had a head any ting like his. Not de great Duke D’Orleans, nor de Grand Monarch himself, had half such a head as Docteer Franklin. And he did not see, he said, what business anybody had wid a head more big dan de head of de Grand Monarch. Pleased to see the poor wigmaker recover his good-humour, Dr. Franklin could not find it in his heart to put a check to his childish rant, but related one of his own anecdotes, which struck the wigmaker with such an idea of his wit, that, as he retired, which he did, bowing most profoundly, he shrugged his shoulders, and with a look most significantly arch, said, “Ah, Docteer Franklin! Docteer Franklin! I no wonder your head too big for my wig. I ‘fraid your head be too big for all de French wigs.”