Benjamin Franklin Papers

“The Spectator”: The Duke of York’s Travels, 10 May 1765

“The Spectator”: The Duke of York’s Travels8

Printed in The Public Advertiser, May 15, 1765

Pimlico, May 10. [1765]


I have observed all the News-papers have of late taken great Liberties with a noble Personage nearly allied to his Majesty.9 They have one Day made him Commander of a Fleet in the Mediterranean; again in the Channel; then to hoist his Flag on board a Yacht, and go on a grand Commission to Copenhagen; then to take a Tour to Brunswick, and so parade all over Germany to our unsatisfied Ally the King of Prussia;1 then he is said to commence Admiral again, and go with a large Fleet to America; first for a little Amusement to go a Cod Fishing with Monsieurs,2 and then to range the Continent, and I suppose they mean to go a Wood-hunting with the Cherokee Kings;3 these are the Peregrinations, Mr. Woodfall, that our noble Duke is to be sent upon; but indeed I am much surprised in their highflown Schemes they have never thought of sending him with a grand Squadron to East India up the Ganges to call upon the Nabob,4 and then advance and pay a Visit to the Great Mogul, and afterwards sail for China, and go up to see the Grandeur of the Court of Pekin: This would have been a fine Subject to have enlarged upon, and they might have thrown in how many sumptuous Barges were building to be sent on board the Squadron to be put together in India, and advance up the River with the utmost Magnificence. If these Hints will be any ways instructive to the News-writers, I shall be happy to have pleased so useful a Body of Men in this great City; and am Mr Woodfall’s most humble Servant,

The Spectator.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8This piece was first attributed to BF by Verner W. Crane in his Benjamin Franklin’s Letters to the Press 1758–1775 (Chapel Hill, [1950]), pp. 30–2, who asserts that BF conceived it to furnish a cue for his celebrated spoof of May 20, 1765 (see below, pp. 132–5).

9George III’s younger brother, Edward Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1739–1767), is the person meant. Crane has tracked down in the Public Advertiser the source of many of the rumors about Edward Augustus which are incorporated in the present article. See Letters to the Press, p. 31 n.

1Edward Augustus did make a continental tour in the summer of 1765. The justification for speculations about a trip to Copenhagen was the betrothal of his younger sister to the heir to the Danish throne, announced in January 1765; similarly, his elder sister was married to the Prince of Brunswick.

2London Chron., Feb. 7–9, 1765, reported that the French were fitting out a record number of ships for the Newfoundland cod fishery.

3The inspiration for this supposition may have been reports in London Chron., Feb. 14–16, March 2–5, 1765, of three Cherokee Indians in London, who were relieved from poverty and handsomely dressed by Lord Hillsborough, then interviewed by the Board of Trade, and finally sent home, all expenses paid, with presents from the King.

4Lord Clive’s return to India with a magnificent jeweled diadem for the Nabob of Bengal was a frequent subject of newspaper reports at this time.

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