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In the Archives: Fart Proudly by Benjamin Franklin (1781)

Benjamin Franklin

Editor’s Note:  Written around 1781, this piece is one of the classics of flatulence humor.  Also called “A Letter to the Royal Academy” and “To the Royal Academy of Farting,” the piece was written in response to a call for scientific papers by the Royal Academy of Brussels.  Never submitted, Franklin printed the piece and distributed it to friends.  It was long suppressed on collections of Franklin’s writings, although it is discussed in a popular biography and included in the Library of America collection of Franklin’s writings.

And if you like humor on farting from eminent Americans, check out Mark Twain’s “1601,” which is the dirtiest piece of Mark Twain’s writing to see the light of day.

To the Royal Academy of Farting

 c. 1781
GENTLEMEN,

I have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. “Une figure quelconque donnee, on demande d’y inscrire le plus grand nombre de fois possible une autre figure plus-petite quelconque, qui est aussi donnee”. I was glad to find by these following Words, “l’Acadeemie a jugee que cette deecouverte, en eetendant les bornes de nos connoissances, ne seroit pas sans UTILITE”, that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has n

ot always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater_Utility.

Benjamin Franklin fart proudly full text

Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious

Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age. 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.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

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