To Joshua Babcock5
ALS: Yale University Library
London, Decr. 10. 1761
I have been favour’d with yours by your valuable Sons, on whose promising Worth I congratulate you and good Mrs. Babcock.6 I should be glad to see them oftner than I do. But young Men find in England, Amusements more agreeable than the Company of old ones. The Colonel is gone down with my Son to Bath, where I last Night had the Pleasure of hearing they were both well.7
It gives me Pleasure to learn that my Endeavours here for the Good of our Northern Colonies, have met with the Approbation you mention, among my Countrymen.8 The Negotiations for a Peace, in which Canada was to be for ever ceded to England, are unfortunately broken off, but there is nevertheless great Reason to believe it will not be given up, unless some fatal Change should happen in our Affairs.9 The Nation is now so fully convinc’d of the Importance of retaining it; that a Minister without evident Necessity, will hardly venture to relinquish it.
My best Respects attend you and yours. Remember me to your Neighbours the good Samaritans: to Mr. and Mrs. Ward, Mr. Eeles, &c.1 With the greatest Esteem, I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant
P. S. I enclose you some Seeds of the true Tartarian Rhubarb.2 It is distributed by Order of the Society of Arts. There is no doubt but it will grow with you.
Addressed: To / Dr Babcock / at Westerly / Rhodeisland Governmt / Free / B Franklin
Endorsed: Ben Franklin Esq. of 10 Decr. 1762 from London with seed of Tartarn Rhubarp Recd 21 Aprl. 1762
Another note in an almost illegible hand: Tower Hills April 21. 1762 By My Master and forwardd by Ser [?] Hurd Ser John Cass[?]
5. On Joshua Babcock, physician and storekeeper of Westerly, R.I., Ezra Stiles’s “stay-at-home Protestant,” see above, VI, 174 n.
6. Babcock’s letter not found. The Babcocks had four sons: Henry (1736–1800), Luke (1738–1777), Adam (1740–1817), and Paul (b. 1748). The one referred to here as the “Colonel” was Henry, B.A., Yale, 1752; an officer in the R.I. militia who had served at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. He was a member of the R.I. Assembly, 1766–69, and served briefly in the militia again early in the Revolution. If only one of his younger brothers accompanied him to England in 1761 it was probably Luke, B.A., Yale, 1755, who kept shop in New Haven and became postmaster there in 1767. Two years later he went to England for Episcopal ordination and was a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Yonkers, N.Y., 1771–77. Like many Episcopal clergymen in the northern colonies, he was a Loyalist at the outbreak of the Revolution. Dexter, Biog. Sketches, II, 277–80, 362–4; Wilkins Updike, A History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, D. B. Updike, ed. (Boston, 1907), II, 47–58.
7. See above, p. 394, for WF’s visit to Bath.
8. Probably a reference to the Canada Pamphlet.
9. Negotiations between Great Britain and France, conducted simultaneously in London and Paris during the late spring and the summer of 1761, were broken off in September. A proposed general congress of all the warring powers at Augsburg never met. Gipson, British Empire, VIII, 204–22.
1. Samuel and Anna Ward of Westerly (the latter the sister of Catherine Ray), and probably the Rev. Nathaniel Eeles (1711–1786), A.B., Harvard, 1728, minister at nearby Stonington, Conn. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, VIII, 407–16.
2. The Tartarian rhubarb (Rheum officinale) was introduced to Europe from China through Russia and promoted in Great Britain by BF’s friend Sir Alexander Dick (above, VIII, 440 n). It was highly prized for its medicinal uses. In 1774 the Society of Arts awarded its gold medal to Dick for his contribution. Robert Dossie, Memoirs of Agriculture and other (Economical Arts (London, 1768–82), II, 258–91; III, 208–25.