Even at an early age, Benjamin Franklin exhibited a vivid imagination, wit and talent. Perhaps to dissuade him from going to sea as one of his brothers had done, Ben was apprenticed at the age of 12 to his brother James, who ran a print shop in Boston. Ben took to printing like a duck to water, despite his brother’s harsh treatment. When James refused to publish any of his brother’s writing, Ben adopted the pseudonym Mrs. Silence Dogood, and once every two weeks he would slip a letter under the door of the print shop. A total of 14 letters were published in The New England Courant, to the delight of the readership.
The first letter began:
|“||Sir,It may not be improper in the first Place to inform your Readers, that I intend once a Fortnight to present them, by the Help of this Paper, with a short Epistlewhich I presume will add somewhat to their Entertainment.And since it is observed, that the Generality of People, nowadays, are unwilling either to commend or dispraise what they read, until they are in some measure informed who or what the Author of it is, whether he be poor or rich, old or young, a Schollar or a Leather Apron Man, &c. and give their Opinion of the Performance, according to the Knowledge which they have of the Author’s Circumstances, it may not be amiss to begin with a short Account of my past Life and present Condition, that the Reader may not be at a Loss to judge whether or no my Lucubrations are worth his reading.||
The letters were published fortnightly, poking fun at various aspects of life in colonial America, Some men wrote in offering to marry Ms. Dogood upon learning she was widowed.
Eventually, James found out that all fourteen of the letters had been written by his younger brother, and was furious. Benjamin left his apprenticeship without permission and escaped to Philadelphia, where he would remain for the rest of his life.
In honor of Franklin’s birthday we’ve created a RHUBARB Tea cocktail combining ingredients from Old England (cucumber), New England (cranberry), and Philadelphia (RHUBARB Tea), the “RHUBARB Dogood”.
1 part RHUBARB Tea, chilled
2 parts cranberry juice (no sugar added)
1 part cucumber syrup (see recipe below)
splash fresh lime juice
Combine RHUBARB Tea, cranberry, cucumber syrup, and lime juices over ice. Garnish with cucumber wedges.
2 cups grated English cucumber (about 1 cucumber), plus cucumber wedges, for garnish
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, stir in grated cucumber, and let cool. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl or large glass measuring cup, and discard solids (you should have 2 cups syrup). Cucumber syrup can be refrigerated up to 3 days.