Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Notes from my knapsack 7-31-14

Notes from my knapsack 7-31-14

Jeff Gill


Poor Richard in Granville



In 1758, Benjamin Franklin looked back at the run of his noted almanac, and said the following:


"In 1732 I first published my Almanac under the name of Richard Saunders; it was continued by me about twenty-five years, and commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac. I endeavoured to make it both entertaining and useful, and it accordingly came to be in such demand, that I reaped considerable profit from it…"


By profit, Franklin meant not only financial recompense, but also fame to go with his fortune. And in his retrospective "The Way to Wealth" from which the above quote is taken, he goes on to comment on listening to a public speaker whose talk gleaned most of its observations about life and living from the writing of Franklin's fictional alter ego:


"It would be thought a hard government, that should tax its people one-tenth part of their time, to be employed in its service; but idleness taxes many of us much more; sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears; while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says."


Along College Street, between lower and upper campuses of Denison University, we've been looking at the four inscriptions paired onto two gates, part of a summer-long consideration of public quotes seen around Granville. We've already thought about the two closer to downtown near Burke & Cleveland Halls, and now we're on down to where Plum turns into Burg Street heading uphill.


If you're on foot uphill there, you pass between our last two 1904 gateway quotes, one of which being:


"Do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of"


So we've gone from Longfellow and St. Augustine alongside of George Crabbe and his accounting of village life and self-sufficiency, both citations there for the inspiration and motivation of students plugging along from the Fine Arts Quad to the Academic Quad, to a pair of more punchy, even pithy quotes. Franklin, bless him, was always good for a pithy and pertinent quote; he was the model for our later Will Rogers and Mark Twains… Franklin would have LOVED Twitter if he were around today.


As we approach wrapping up this four part segment within our larger narrative about what Granville has found worth carving in stone, we get closer to asking some questions about the person and the process that selected these large, eye-level, dramatic quotations for our ongoing edification.


Pres. Emory Hunt was one of the last clergy to serve as chief officer of Denison (he also held the PhD degree, so he's more often called Dr. Hunt). In 1904, as the layout and landscaping of the campus began to be considered, and the physical and academic connections between the former women's colleges became a fully integrated institution, these gateways became less a dividing line than a sign and symbol of what drew them all together.


How were these four quotes selected, and what do they mean? That, and the author of our fourth gateway quote, will be part of the next installment.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about quotes that mean much to you at knapsack77@gmail.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.

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