Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Benjamin Vaughan, 24 June 1783

From Benjamin Vaughan

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London, June 24, 1783.

My dearest sir,

Having an opportunity of writing you by the Dutch envoy from London, I cannot omit sending you a line to tell you that I see nothing more that is amiss here than you know of, notwithstanding Mr Knox & two or three people pretend that the Loyal Colonies are to have the trade to the islands.8 If you keep firm, & good humored, I hope you will in the end lose nothing. From what I know however of this & of the last ministry, things will go down better, if put them upon the footing of reasonableness and kindness, & the necessity & concordance of circumstances, rather than upon any other footing. John Bull has been fed a long time upon dainty food of his own dressing, and he does not like to see other people prescribing to him.— Your former proceedings have been successful, principally because you had people of better sense at home than you now have. At least I, who am a timid conciliating man, am apt to think so. You may be wiser at Paris however than I am, but I wish you may not push the manner of conducting the thing too far, for we are on the whole irritable.

There are strong symptoms that the king does not relish the present ministry, and if he were to change, it is likely enough he would think of our friends. He has gained, & the ministers have lost credit, by the disputes about the Prince of Wales’s establishment;9 to whom the king has been very liberal hitherto, as to money.— Lord Shelburne is gone to Spa, with Lady Shelburne; but Mr. Pitt stays at home.— The prince is very far from being pleased, they tell me.

I am very sorry for the accident to your electrical machine, the box containing which, appears to be damaged;1 but I have ordered a new one to be forwarded immediately.— I am sorry that so much of the summer slips away without your coming here. If you do not come with your son, it will be the very deepest disappointment of my life; of which be assured.

I am soon going to be releived from the troublesome state I am in with my family. They embark this week. My time will then be my own again; and, unless I see an honest reason why I should not write, or these Bystanders should occupy me, you & Mr Jay will often hear from me probably, if matter occurs.

I remember some time ago I was desired to enumerate the virtues of castor oil, & the mode of taking it.2 Its first virtues arise from its being an innocent evacuant, & which gives no pain when it operates. The West Indians add a thousand others; as for the gravel, & so on.— The mode of taking it is putting a table spoonful, more or less according to constitution or use, into a little cold water, or into milk or brandy or rum. I use the former method; and when the oil is good, that is, not rancid, it is not unpleasant altogether in point of taste.

I am keeping open my letter to learn news for you, without missing however my opportunity.

NB. My friends not returning in time I close this letter, with my usual assurances that I am, my dearest sir, your ever devoted, most affectionate & grateful,

Benjn: Vaughan

P.S. In speaking above, I wish to convey, that it will not be wholly well taken to be cavalier-like & cold about the English connection. I do not indeed see how sensible men here could help themselves upon this subject, but men who have not sense may feel less embarrassed on the subject;—and though they may be forced to come to, at last, yet they will first try to get many other methods of putting an end to the business.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In May, North had turned to William Knox (XV, 94n) for advice on trade regulations with the United States. Knox was largely responsible for the July 2 Order in Council that denied American ships access to the trade between Britain and its West Indian colonies. Vaughan is wrong here; Knox (unlike other advocates of the order such as Baron Sheffield) did not feel that Canada was adequate for supplying these colonies: Harlow, Second British Empire, I, 478–81.

9George, Prince of Wales, was due to come of age in August. His father balked at granting him an establishment of £100,000 per year, as the Cabinet had recommended: John Brooke, King George III (New York, St. Louis, and San Francisco, 1972), pp. 247–9.

1See Dessin to BF, June 15. Dessin must have written to Vaughan about the damage around the same time, as Vaughan acknowledged it in his letter to Darcel of June 20 (APS).

2XXXIX, 371.

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