Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Deborah Franklin, 4 June 1765

To Deborah Franklin

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, June 4. 1765

My dear Child

I have now before me your Favours of April 13, 15, 17, 23, May 14, 18, 20. not so many Letters as Dates, some of them having two or three.2

As to the Cause concerning the Lot,3 I have never been in the least uneasy about it, desiring only that Justice might be done, which I do not doubt. I hope Robinson was not long missing after your Letters, as I really have a great Esteem for him.4

I could have wished to have been present at the Finishing of the Kitchen, as it is a mere Machine, and being new to you, I think you will scarce know how to work it. The several Contrivances to carry off Steam and Smell and Smoke not being fully explain’d to you. The Oven I suppose was put up by the written Directions in my former Letter.5 You mention nothing of the Furnace. If that Iron One is not set, let it alone till my Return, when I shall bring a more convenient copper one.

You wonder how I did to travel 72 Miles in a short winter Day, on my Landing in England, and think I must have practis’d Flying.6 But the Roads here are so good, with Post Chaises and fresh Horses every ten or twelve Miles, that it is no difficult Matter. A Lady that I know has come from Edinburgh to London, being 400 Miles, in three Days and half.

You mention the Payment of the 500 Pounds,7 but do not say that you have got the Deeds executed. I suppose however that it was done.

I received the two Post Office Letters you sent me.8 It was not Letters of that Sort alone that I wanted; but all such as were sent to me from any one whomsoever.

I cannot but complain in my Mind of Mr. Smith,9 that the House is so long unfit for you to get into, the Fences not put up, nor the other necessary Articles got ready. The Well I expected would have been dug in the Winter, or early in the Spring; but I hear nothing of it. You should have garden’d long before the Date of your last, but it seems the Rubbish was not removed.

I am much oblig’d to my good old Friends1 that did me the Honour to remember me in the unfinish’d Kitchin. I hope soon to drink with them in the Parlour.

I am very thankful to the good Ladies you mention for their friendly Wishes. Present my best Respects to Mrs. Grace and Dear Precious, Mrs. Shewell, Mrs. Masters, Mrs. Galloway and Miss, Mrs. Redman, Mrs. Graeme, Mrs. Thomson, Mrs. Story, Mrs. Bartram, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Hilborne, and all the others you have nam’d to me.2 My Love also to our Brothers and Sisters and Cousins as if particularly mention’d. I have Deliver’d yours to Mrs. and Miss Stevenson, Mr. and Mrs. Strahan and their Family, Mrs. Empson, Mrs. West,3 and our Country Cousins.4 Miss Graham5 is not come to Town as I have heard.

It rejoices me to learn that you are freer than you us’d to be from the Head Ach and that Pain in your Side. I am likewise in perfect Health. God is very good to us both in many Respects. Let us enjoy his Favours with a thankful and chearful Heart; and, as we can make no direct Return to him, show our Sense of his Goodness to us, by continuing to do Good to our Fellow Creatures, without Regarding the Returns they make us, whether Good or Bad. For they are all his Children, tho’ they may sometimes be our Enemies. The Friendships of this World are changeable, uncertain transitory Things; but his Favour, if we can secure it, is an Inheritance forever.

I am, my dear Debby, Your ever loving Husband,

B Franklin

By Capt. Friend6 I send a Box. marked BF. It contains some things mention’d in mine to Sally with some fine Worsted, a Sugar Tongs, &c.

P.S. Our Neighbour Swan’s Son7 came to me in a poor naked Condition, telling me he had been cast away. I gave him my Surtout Coat, and lent him Twenty-six Shillings, which he said his Father would repay if he did not. Enclos’d I send his Note for a Guinea. I would have you ask for it. If paid ’tis well. If not, ’tis no great matter.

By the Packet which sails the 13th, I shall write to most of my Friends. Some Letters I intended last Week via New-York, go by this Vessel.

P.S. July 7. I have wrote to some of my Friends by this Vessel but have not time to copy the Letters for the rest, so shall send them per the Packet which goes on Saturday, and perhaps may arrive first.8

Addressed: To / Mrs Franklin / at / Philadelphia / per Capt. Friend.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2None of these letters from DF has been found.

3DF’s missing letters mentioned above may have made clear to BF what is now an obscure matter. From many references in letters of the next eighteen months, however, it would appear that the lot in question was the one lying next west of BF’s property and that litigation was going on between other parties concerning its title, exact location, and rights of the way over it. The Franklins apparently planned to build a wall along part, at least, of their boundary, but the work was held up for over a year to avoid any charge of trespass or interference with a right of way.

4Capt. James Robinson, in whose ship, the King of Prussia, BF had sailed to England in November 1764, was long overdue in Philadelphia when DF wrote BF the aforementioned letters. He arrived on May 31, 1765, in the Prince George, having been becalmed for about seven weeks. Pa. Gaz., June 6, 1765.

5BF seems to have sent the directions to Hugh Roberts. The oven was assembled without using them, however. See below, p. 211.

6See above, XI, 517 and n, for BF’s quick trip from Portsmouth to London.

7This was apparently part of the £900 purchase price for the lot, adjacent to the other Franklin properties, which DF had recently bought from Anthony Syddon. See above, p. 128 and below, pp. 283–6.

8In his letter of Feb. 9, 1765, BF had asked DF to send him all letters from the Post Office which came to Philadelphia in his absence; above, p. 43. Writing to BF, March 22, 1765, James Parker mentioned one letter from Anthony Todd to BF and Foxcroft, which DF had let him read in part; above, p. 89. Neither of the letters BF acknowledges here has been found.

9Robert Smith, the carpenter who was building BF’s new house. See above, X, 237 n. In a letter of April 7–12, 1765, DF had complained about the delay in moving into the new quarters; above, p. 102.

1Not identified, but probably, among others, Hugh Roberts, Thomas Wharton, and Abel James, whom DF had mentioned as visiting her in BF’s absence. See above, p. 46.

2Of the ladies mentioned here, BF had sent his regards to Mrs. Shewell, Thomson, and Smith on Feb. 14, 1765; see above, p. 63 n. Mrs. Grace was Rebecca Nutt Grace, the wife of BF’s old friend Robert Grace (above, I, 209; II, 286). “Dear Precious,” mentioned by BF before (above, VIII, 305), was probably Mrs. Grace’s daughter by her first marriage, Anna Nutt, who married Thomas Potts in 1757. He bought most of the Graces’ property, including the iron works at Coventry, in March 1765. Mrs. Masters was probably Mrs. Mary Lawrence Masters, widow of BF’s old friend William Masters (above, VI, 312 n; X, 201 n). “Mrs. Galloway and Miss” were the wife and daughter of Joseph Galloway, Grace Growden Galloway and Elizabeth Galloway. Mrs. Redman was probably Mary Sober Redman, wife of Dr. John Redman (above, V, 356 n). Ann Diggs Graeme, wife of Dr. Thomas Graeme, died on May 29, 1765; see above, p. 153. Mrs. Story has not been identified; she could have been any of a number of Philadelphia Storys. Mrs. Bartram was probably John Bartram’s wife. Mrs. Hilborne has not been identified.

3BF mentioned these two last-named ladies in his letter to DF of Feb. 14, 1765. See above, p. 63.

4BF may be referring to his relatives in the Midlands, Anne Farrow (A. and her daughter, or to DF’s relatives in the Birmingham area, or to both. For Anne Farrow, see above, VIII, 223–4, 238, and passim; for DF’s relatives, see VIII, 138–44.

5Elizabeth Graeme, who had come to England in the summer of 1764 for her health. See above, p. 63 n.

6The Carolina, Capt. James Friend, arrived in Philadelphia on Sept. 11, 1765, after a passage of between eight and nine weeks from London. Pa. Gaz., and Pa. Jour., Sept. 12, 1765.

7Probably Richard Swan (b. 1740), son of Richard Swan, a Philadelphia hatter. PMHB, XVII (1893), 356; XXXI (1907), 99.

8Only the letters to Hall and Ross, which follow immediately below, appear to have gone at this time. Other letters referred to here either have disappeared entirely or were postponed until later sailings.

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