Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Hugh Roberts, 12 October 1765

From Hugh Roberts

Draft: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Philada: 12 October 1765

Dear Friend B F

I have thy favour of the 7 July3 and as every Sentence that I see from under thy hand gives me pleasure, the receiving your short Epistle increased the Joy, and I should have been pleased to have seen one pun in your Letter, not that I wish to be further instruct’d therein by my Original Tutor4 but for the reason thou mentioned that I might have been convinced thou dost not suffer thy former Vivacity of Spirits to droop rather too low—which I hope will revive a little by the Account of our late proceeding in Election—and notwithstanding our old Adversaries have made tryal of every new invented Fraud and falshood their inveterate hearts could suggest5 (and I must acknowledge my mistake in supposing “they had not Life remaining sufficient to convey Fire”6 ’tis evident they alternately Smoke and Stink then revive and flash like a dying Taper) yet they have not been able to carry one point7 for the Chester County Members remain the same

Bucks——are all our Friends

Lancaster has turn’d out that sycophant I Saunders

and placed a better Man in his room8

and in our County we have also gained every Man and exceeded our Enemies about 500 Votes on an Average. James Pemberton was put up for a Burgess against their City Champion G Bryan and on examining the Votes they appeard Equal; the Inspectors did not undertake to reexamine but agreed to Seal up the Boxes and deliver them over to the next sitting of Assembly and I think that 6 of the late 10 Calumneating Protestors have now no right to sit in the House.9 I have not engaged so closely at any Election for many years past thereof.

It was much greater than any preceeding and Continued Many days; whenever I found my Spirits to droop a little, the revival of the Apprehensions of the fatal Consequences that might ensue and their determined resolution to Cast on thee all the reproach in their power Spurr’d me to the most diligent Application and I never omitted contending with the Leaders of our Enemies whenever there was any prospect of Advantage; and tho in the Course of many days proceedings we were obliged to receive uncivil treatment from their servile dependants who, in the Language of Job “we should have disdain’d to have sit with the Dogs of our Flock,”1 yet patients and Industry gain’d the point we aim’d at.

I need not give a more Minute Account since I know some of thy numerous Friends will transmit thee every particular relating to this and our Commotions in general.

I am sorry thou hast not been able to find an Engraver to Cut the Seal on more reasonable Terms than those thou mention’d.2 Had I been there I should had no dependance on Kirk but applied to some more benevolent Friend who after he had cheerfulley performed the Work would have patiently waited for Hospital pay for the Major part of it. However I leave it intirely to thy Judgment.

The remaining Members of the good old Junto adjourned during the warm and short Evenings and are now endeavouring to find a House for their and thy reception where We may sit with more satisfaction than of late.

I continue my Visits in my way, to thy Family thy Wife is well and Daughter Sally at Burlington.

If thou hast an Opportunity give my kind respects to my worthy Friend Saml Neave,3 he is not readily acquainted yet when known his integrity of heart would attract the regard of every honest Mind tho engaged in a different Scene of Life.

My time has been much employ’d this Summer in building a House at Richmond (alias Point no Point)4 and if I should ever have the happiness of enjoying thy Company there with a few of our Old honest hearted Friends twill be a full reward for the trouble I have taken in repeatedly “retireing” after the hurry of Business to which place I am just now going and at present bid the Adieu thy very Affectionate Friend


Endorsed: Copy to Benja Franklin October 12th 1765 per Capt Friend

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3Above, pp. 201–2.

4In 1758 BF had claimed “a little Merit or Demerit … as having had some hand in making you a Punster.” Above, VIII, 159.

5A lengthy broadside in APS headed “To the Freeholders and Electors Of the Province of Pennsylvania” repeats many of the charges brought against BF in the election of 1764, denies that he had made any real effort to prevent passage of the Stamp Act, and charges that, in fact, as far back as 1755 he had urged the passage by Parliament of such an act as well as a poll tax and the circulation of interest-bearing Exchequer bills based on mortgages as a means of creating an independent revenue for the Crown. Since then BF had probably also urged an excise scheme. The broadside also attacked WF for refusing to give his Assembly a chance to elect delegates to the Stamp Act Congress and for trying to persuade members of the Pa. Assembly to oppose sending delegates from their colony. Samuel Wharton sent a copy of this broadside to WF, Sept. 29, 1765, saying that it had been read the evening before by James Biddle, “a pitifull and low Attorny, of this City,” at a gathering at the Lodge. Governor Penn was believed to have been present and to have led the cheers at the reading of each paragraph. Wharton to WF, Sept. 29, 1765, Franklin Papers, APS.

6A paraphrase of a passage in Roberts’ letter of May 20, 1765; above, p. 136.

7On the election of October 1765, especially on the results in Philadelphia County and City, see above, pp. 290–2.

8In September 1764 a committee of the Assembly had severely criticized Isaac Saunders for failing correctly to represent to his constituents the public business and the Assembly’s resolutions. See above, XI, 340 n. He was defeated in 1765 by Jacob Carpenter.

9See above, p. 305 n.

1“But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.” Job 30:1.

2On the proposed new seal for the hospital, see above, pp. 138, 202.

3For Roberts’ warm praise of Neave, then about to sail to England on a visit, and his hope that Neave and BF would meet, see his letter of May 20, 1765, cited above.

4Point no Point or Richmond, a locality later known as Bridesburg, occupied a bulge in the west bank of the Delaware River, just southwest of the mouth of Frankford Creek, which is about six miles northeast of the center of Philadelphia. PMHB, XLVII (1923), 374. Matthew Albert Lotter’s A Plan of the City and Environs of Philadelphia of 1777 shows Roberts’ house as standing about half a mile from the mouth of the creek on the direct road to the city.

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