"Boston State House Is The Hub Of The Solar System"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 329

Context: Chapter Six of The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table opens with a discussion of famous sayings by men of Boston, starting with Benjamin Franklin's comment, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged." This is followed by a comment attributed to the Autocrat's friend, the Historian, "Give us the luxuries of life, and we will dispense with its necessaries." The Autocrat adds a third, "Good Americans, when they die, go to Paris." A stranger at the boardinghouse table, a young "jaunty-looking" chap, says he has heard a fourth saying, about Boston and its views. Under some prodding from the other guests, the young man gives the quotation above. It is followed by a discussion of the parochialism that one finds in every city. The people of Boston, suggests the Autocrat, are no different in their attitudes toward their native city from those of other towns, large or small. He goes on to comment, "Boston is just like the other places of its size;–only, perhaps, considering its excellent fish-market, paid fire-department, superior monthly publications, and correct habit of spelling the English language, it has some right to look down on the mob of cities."

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A jaunty-looking person, who had come in with the young fellow they call John,–evidently a stranger,–said there was one more wise man's sayings that he had heard; it was about our place, but he didn't know who said it.–A civil curiosity was manifested by the company to hear the fourth wise saying. I heard him distinctly whispering to the young fellow who brought him to dinner, Shall I tell it? To which the answer was, Go ahead!–Well,–he said,–this was what I heard:–
"Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. You couldn't pry that out of a Boston man, if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crowbar."

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"Good Americans, When They Die, Go To Paris"

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