This morning I read with interest a review (The Guardian Newspaper, Review Section, Friday last) of “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life”, a biography of the great man by Walter Isaacson. The reviewer was mostly positive but bemoaned the lack of critical examination in the book.
The review ends with the following quote,
“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”
This quote is taken from his speech to the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. and the reviewer finishes with the quip,
“Alas, these prophetic words of the great sage are not included in Isaacson’s biography. They might have unsettled American readers, who cannot bear very much reality.”
Fortunately for us, the speech is online, and as the EU draws ever nearer to creating it’s own constitution it’s worth taking a look at the complete text as the quote above doesn’t do it justice.
And the title of this post? I copied the reviewer’s title. It refers to the fact that Mr Franklin was a very successful business man and lead a colourful life!