What taboo topic did Benjamin Franklin once write to the Royal Academy about?
Though better known for his more serious works and inventions, Benjamin Franklin had a pretty good sense of humor. His satirical essay, "A Letter to a Royal Academy About Farting," implored the Royal Academy of Brussels to research a drug that would render farts odorless so people could pass wind in public without fear of offending others. "It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind," he wrote in 1781 (right in the middle of the American Revolution, we might note; Franklin was living in Paris as the American Ambassador to France at the time). He suggested finding a way to convert flatulence into more pleasant smells, including rose, musk, bergamot, and lily. "Surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments, and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press," Franklin wrote. Thankfully, Franklin never actually sent the essay to the Academy — only to a few close friends. And if there was any question that the piece was satirical, he, ahem, cleared the air with his last thought, when he declared the whole thing "scarcely worth a FART-HING." Source: Teaching American History and Penguin Random House | Date Updated: May 28, 2021
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