Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Henry Echlin, 18 January 1777

From Henry Echlin3

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Prison of the Abbaie St. Germain. 18th. Jany: 1777


Tho’ I have not The honour of being personally known to you, I thus venture to address you, not as a Country man, but as a fellow creature, who is reduced by a Captivity of upwards of three years; by Sickness, and Every sort of Evil to the last degree of unhappyness. I am thus compel’d to have Recourse to this most humiliating method of Subsisting. Your Reputation of humanity is as well establised, and does you as much honour, as that of your Extensive Learning, Knowledge and unequalled understanding, and Experience. To whom then can I better address myself In this moment of accumulated ill? In happier days I had occasion to prove myself a Lover of Liberty and an Ennemy to oppression. In my sad situation my way of Thinking is of little Consequence. The unhappy have no freinds. The Bearer will Receive your Commands. I shall always Remain with equal Gratitude and Respect Sir your most obliged obedient servant

Henry Echlin

Addressed: A Monsieur / Monsieur Francklin / A: Paris.

Notation: Echelin 18 Jan 77. from Prison

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

3An Irish baronet (1740–99) who spent years in jail for debt; the relief provided by friends, including Horace Walpole, proved only temporary. He later returned to England and changed his name, but went on squandering his estate. Wilmarth S. Lewis et al., eds., The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence (48 vols., New Haven, 1931–83), VII, 110 and passim; Pierre Manuel, La Police de Paris dévoilée . . . (2 vols., Paris, [1791]), II, 260–2; John R. Echlin, Genealogical Memoirs of the Echlin Family (2nd ed., Edinburgh, [1882]), p. 52. BF made some reply, we do not know what, and Echlin sent him a list-perhaps of those who might help to buy him out of jail; Echlin wrote again on the 28th (APS) to ask to have the list back.

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