Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Mary Hewson, 7 September 1783

To Mary Hewson

ALS: Yale University Library

Passy, Sept. 7. 1783

My dear Friend,

I received your kind Letter of the 9th past.4 I am glad that the little Books are pleasing to you and your Children, and that the Children improve by them. I send you herewith some more of them.5 My Grandson Bache has been four Years at School at Geneva; and is but lately come home to me here. I find Reason to be satisfied with the Improvement he has made in his Learning. He translates common Latin readily into French: but his English has suffer’d for want of Use; tho’ I think he would readily recover it if he were a while at your School at Cheam, and at the same time be going on with his Latin and Greek. You were once so kind as to offer to take him under your Care; would that be still convenient to you?6 He is docile and of gentle Manners, ready to receive and follow good Advice, and will set no bad Example to your other Children. He gains every day upon my Affections.

I long much to see you & yours, and my other Friends in England, but I have not yet determin’d on the Journey. Our definitive Treaty of Peace, being now sign’d, I have indeed less to confine me here, & might make a short Excursion without much Inconvenience: but short Days & Winter are coming on, and I think I can hardly undertake such an Expedition before the Spring of next Year.

With regard to the future Establishment of your Children, which you say you want to consult me about, I am still of Opinion that America will afford you more Chances of doing it well than England. All the means of good Education are plenty there, the general Manners more simple & pure, Temptations to Vice and Folly fewer, the Profits of Industry in Business as great and sure as in England; and there is one Advantage more which your Command of Money will give you there, I mean the laying out a Part of your Fortune in new Land, now to be had extreamly cheap, but which must be increas’d immensely in Value before your Children come of Age, by the rapid Population of the Country. If you should arrive there while I live, you know you may depend on every Assistance in my Power to afford you, and I think my Children will have a Pleasure too in serving their Father’s Friend. I do not offer it as a Motive that you will be much esteem’d and respected there, for that you are & must be every where; but give me leave to flatter myself that my being made happier in my last Years by your Neighbourhood and Society, may be some Inducement to you.

I forwarded your Letter to Mr. Williams. Temple is always with me, being my Secretary. He presents his Respects to you. I have been lately ill with a Fit of the Gout, if that may indeed be called a Disease; I rather suspect it to be a Remedy; since I always find my Health & Vigour of Mind improv’d after the Fit is over. I am ever, my dear Friend, Yours most affectionately,

B Franklin

PS. You say you are a little afraid that our Country is spoiled. Parts of it have indeed suffered by the War, those situated near the Sea; but the Body of the Country has not been much hurt; and the Fertility of our Soil, with the Industry of our People, now that the Commerce of all the World is open to us, will soon repair the Damages receiv’d, and introduce that Prosperity which we hope Providence intends for us, since it has so remarkably favour’d our Revolution.

Mrs Hewson

Endorsed: B F Sept. 7 — 83 42

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]


5Probably more installments of Berquin’s L’ami des enfants; see XXXIX, 67n, 504n.

6BF and Hewson had been discussing this possibility for some time; see XXXVII, 471–2, 652–3; XXXVIII, 567.

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