Temple's Diary Temple's Diary
Episode 3. A Summer in New Jersey

The Electric Franklin

August 29, 1775

A gloomy day. Elizabeth is in bed with a migraine. Grandfather stays in his room because he has work to do. Father and I go for a last ride since I am to leave tomorrow for Philadelphia. Worried about revealing that I overheard last night's discussion, I keep very quiet.

And suddenly Father starts talking. And talking. A new broom sweeps clean, as the saying goes. Well, the Governor must have decided to make up for fifteen years of non-fatherhood by becoming a superfather, deeply concerned with his son's college curriculum. The quantity of courses he urges me to take is staggering: Mathematics, Latin, and Greek in which I have been well grounded while in England have to be pursued, of course, as well as English Literature. The study of German is crucial for a future resident of Pennsylvania. I should enroll in night classes for that. And finally, any aspiring gentleman should have at least some knowledge of French.

— "Temple, don't forget about fencing, as taught by good old Thomas Pike, a veteran famous for his profane language and his wonderful teaching ability. I have already sent 40 shillings to this Pike as a first payment, and I've inquired whether he can teach you dancing, too. Dancing is important, you know."

I point out that a day has only so many waking hours, but Father is not listening.

— "Here is your allowance," he concludes, handing me an envelope. "Mind you now, it should last until Christmas."

— I say: "Yes, Father."

My mind is elsewhere. Is he really jeopardizing my future by remaining loyal to England? What future will I have, anyway? A future in public life? Who wants that?

Other thoughts are whirling in my head. Which of the two men is right, I don't mean morally right but smart enough to be on the victorious side? Father who knows so much about history, law, and political philosophy or Grandfather who understands people? I love them both in different ways. I dislike them both for being unable to agree. I wish I were back in London. I'm unhappy. And now, final blow, I have to go and pack.

Episode 4: Back to a Changed Philadelphia