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Cicero was not without his American admirers. "I think to translate it," wrote James Logan in 1734 to Isaac Norris about the Cato major, a discourse on old age. "Tis an excellent piece and will in my Judgemt extreamly well Suit our present Circumstances." "Our advanced age" is what he meant: Norris was 63, Logan himself 60, in that year. He did translate it and then, in 1742, wrote that "Our ingenious printer B. Franklin about three or four years ago wrote me that he was inclined to print it, on which I revised & altered it in some Parts for the better." According to FranklinÍs bibliographer, C. William Miller, Franklin "understood that there would be more honor than profit" in printing LoganÍs version of the piece -- and even though, he adds, "many think it his most handsome piece of printing," Franklin was right. Cato major never made any money for the printer. Nor did it gain Logan any recognition as a translator. Years after LoganÍs 1751 death, in fact, his translation reappeared but, published in London, it lacked LoganÍs name, contained an engraved frontispiece of Franklin, a preface altered to imply that Franklin had done the translation, and the explicit statement that the explanatory notes were FranklinÍs, too.
Marcus Tullius Cicero. M.T. CiceroÍs Cato Major, or his Discourse of old-age: with explanatory notes. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by B. Franklin, MDCCXLIV [1744]. Curtis Collection 291.