Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jane Mecom, 29 April 1783

From Jane Mecom

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Boston April 29 1783

Dear Brother

I have at Length recved a Leter from you in your own Hand writing, after a Total Silance of three years, in which Time Part of an old Song would Some times Intrude it Self in to my mind,

Does He love & yet forsake me


can he forgit me

will he Niglegt me.1 This was but momentary at other times I concluded it was un Reasonable to Expect it & that you might with grate Proprity After my Teazing you so often, send me the Ansure that Nehemiah did to Tobias, & Sanbalet, who Endevared to obstruct His Rebulding The Temple of Jerusalem, I am doing a grate work; why Should the work Ceace whilest I Leave it & come Down to you.2

And a Grate work Indeed you have Done God be Praised. I hope now you, your Self, will think you have done enouf for the Publick, and will now Put in Execution what you have Sometimes wished to be premited to do; Sit down & Spend the Evening with your Friends. I am Looking Round me at Cambridge for a Comodious Seatt for you, not with any grat Hopes of your coming there I confes (but wishes) knoing you are Accomedated so much to your mind at Philadelphia, and have your children there. I Should However Expect a Share of your corispondence when you have Leasure; & Beleve me my Dear Brother, your writing to me gives me so much Pleasure that the grate, the very grate, Presents you have sent me3 is but a Secondary Joy, I have been very Sick this winter at my Daughters,4 keept my chamber Six weeks but had a Suficency for my Suply of Every thing that could be a comfort to me of my own before I recved any Intimation of the Grat Bounty from your Hand which your Leter has conveyed to me, for I have not been Lavish of what I before Posesed, knoing Sicknes & misfourtens might happen & Certainly old Age but I Shall now be So Rich that I may Indulg in a Small degree a Propencity to help Some Poor cretures who have not the Blesings I Injoy.

My Good Fortune came to me all to gether to comfort me in my weak State, for as I had been So unlucky as not to recve the Leter you Sent me throw yor Son Baches hands tho he In formes me he forwarded it Emediatly His Leter with a Drauft for twenty five Guneys came to my Hand Just before yours which I have recved5 & cannot find Expreshon Suitable to acknolidg my Gratitude, How am I by my Dear Brother Enabled to live at Ease in my old Age (after a Life of care Labour & Anxiety) without which I must have been miserable.

The other Bills are not Paid yet & Corll Johonett is Absent & there is Some Demur about it but I Sopose it may turn out Right by & by His cousen Promises to call on me Prehap He will before I close this Leter, I have waited a fortnight and cannot git the bill Accepted nor a Sight of the Gentileman tho He has Promised many times He will come & talk with me, I am Informed Since I Came to Town that Mr. Williams had recved the other.—6

I yester day recved a Leter from Mrs Bache She Informs me She Expects you Home this Sumer that She & her chilldren are all well her Husband Gone to New York.

I was quite in a weak State when I came to Boston but find my Self gro Stronger Every Day Porpose to go to the State of Rhoad Island in about a Fortnight to Spend the Summer7 I think if you come to America & come this way you will not Fail to call on me & our Good Friend Greene She Desiered me long ago to tell you how Happy She was in the Acquaintance of Some Gentleman you Recomended to them, how Exactly He ansured yor Discription, but I then forgot it & cant now Remember the Name. I heard from there Lately they are all well have an Increce of Grandchilldren which makes them very Happy.8

I percive Mr Williams is Highly Pleased with His Entertainment in France writs about going to England & not Returning in Less than a year9 However that may be I Shall Chirish Some Hopes that you will come with Him tho on Second tho I think it will be two valeuable a Treasure among our famelyes to venture in won Botome but Shall depend on that Provedence which has hitherto Been your Preserver Protecter & Defender and am as Ever your affectionat and obliged Sister

Jane Mecom

My Love to W T F whose Hand writing in your Leter & His name in the Signing the Trety as a Secratery gives me Pleasure

1Mecom conflated two passages from an often-anthologized song known as “Guardian Angels,” in which a young woman pines for her distant lover. The quoted lines are from the end of the second stanza and beginning of the third: “Can he forget me, Will he neglect me, Shall I never see him more! / Does he love, and yet forsake me, To admire a Nymph more fair?” The Lark, Containing a Collection of Above Four Hundred and Seventy Celebrated English and Scotch Songs (London, 1740), pp. 132–3.

2This answer to Tobiah and Sanballat is Nehemiah 6:3.

3The bill of exchange and other promised funds, mentioned below.

4Jane Mecom Collas’ home in Cambridge, Mass.: XXXVIII, 506–7.

5RB had written Mecom on Dec. 4; the letter (now missing) enclosed various bills of exchange, including a draft on John Hancock, and mentioned a letter he had forwarded to her from BF. On April 11 she wrote RB explaining that, although she had never received the forwarded letter, she had, in fact, just received another from BF by post, undoubtedly the letter she acknowledges here: Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 218.

6One bill, drawn on Col. Gabriel Johonnot for 1,026 l.t. 3 s. 6 d., was reimbursement for money BF had spent on the colonel’s son, Samuel Cooper Johonnot, and was to be paid directly to Mecom: XXXVIII, 482. Jonathan Williams, Sr., received payment for two other bills of exchange (both repaying BF for outstanding debts). One was Gabriel Johonnot’s bill for £146, drawn on Andrew Johonnot (possibly the cousin mentioned here); the other was Winslow Warren’s bill for £25, drawn on James Warren: XXXVII, 12; XXXVIII, 233; JW to Jonathan Williams, Sr., April 18, 1782 (Yale University Library).

7At the home of Elihu Greene, widower of Mecom’s granddaughter Jane Flagg Greene: XXXVII, 495; Jane Mecom to SB, May 18, 1783, in Van Doren, Franklin-Mecom, p. 223.

8BF had recommended the comte de Ségur to Catharine Greene in April, 1782: XXXVII, 107. The following December she wrote BF two letters expressing pleasure at meeting Ségur and describing her growing family, which included a third grandson: XXXVIII, 417–18, 505.

9Jonathan Williams, Sr., was in London by April 3: JW to BF, Feb. 23, above; Williams to BF, April 3, above. His plans for a long stay abroad changed; see his May 14 letter.

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