Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to David Hartley, 3 September 1778

To David Hartley

Transcript: Library of Congress

Passy, Sept. 3. 1778.

Dear Sir

I received duly your Favours of July 14. and August 14. I hoped to have answered them sooner, by sending the Passport. Multiplicity of Business has I suppose been the only Occasion of Delay in the Ministers to consider of and make out the said Passport.2 I hope now soon to have it, as I do not find there is any Objection made to it. In a former Letter I propos’d to you that the Exchange would in my opinion be preferable at or near Brest, and I expected some time your Answer on that Point, but perhaps you have not received my Letter, for you say nothing of it.3

I wish with you as much for the Restoration of Peace, as we both formerly did for the Continuance of it. But it must now be a Peace of a different kind. I was fond to a Folly of our British Connection, and it was with infinite Regret that I saw the Necessity you would force us into of breaking it: But the extream Cruelty with which we have been treated has now extinguish’d every Thought of returning to it, and separated us for ever. You have thereby lost Limbs that will never grow again. We too have suffered greatly but our Losses will soon be repair’d, by our good Government, our Industry, and the Fertility of our Country. And we now see the Mischievous Consequences of such a Connection, and the Danger of their being repeated if we should be weak enough again to enter into it: We see them too plainly ever to listen in the least to any such Proposition. We may therefore with great Propriety take leave of you in those beautiful Lines of Dante to the late Mistress of his Affections, [ … ]4

I receiv’d the Thermometer safe, and thank you for your kind Care in sending it.5 You have not mention’d to me whether Parsons’s Bill on Nesbit was accepted and paid.6 By some Circumstances I suspect it was not, and that I was cheated. Please to present my Respects to your amiable Sister,7 and believe me ever, my dear Friend Yours most affectionately

B Franklin

Notation: Benjamin Franklin to David Hartley

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2The commissioners had sent requests for the promised passport on Aug. 28 and 30.

3BF’s letter is missing; his last extant one on the subject, July 13, still discussed using Calais as the transfer point.

4The quotation was not transcribed. He may have had in mind Dante’s last words to Beatrice in Canto XXXI of Il Paradiso: “O lady in whom my hope takes its root … / Thou has brought me, a slave, to freedom’s state, / Through all those roads, by use of every means / Which thou didst have the power to employ … “ Divine Comedy, Thomas Bergin, trans., (New York, 1955), p. 99 of third pagination.

There is a blank space in the manuscript in which someone has written, “Mr. Newby must get some Italian scholar to point out those stanzas and have them placed here.”

5The thermometer was not mentioned in any of Hartley’s prior extant letters.

6See BF to Mrs. Parsons, [Aug. 12].

7Mary Hartley, David’s half-sister, for whom see George Herbert Guttridge, David Hartley, M.P., an Advocate of Conciliation, 1774–1783 ([Berkeley and London, 1926]) p. 235.

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