Benjamin Franklin Papers
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To Benjamin Franklin from William Hodgson, 15 January 1782

From William Hodgson

ALS: American Philosophical Society

London 15 Jany. 1782

Dear sir

I wrote you fully on the 20th Ultimo5 since when I am not favored with any of yours, a duplicate of your former Letter I rec’d per Mr. A—— who I am sorry to learn has been arrested & is now in Confinement at the suit of Messr. W. & Co—6 Mr Laurens has been enlarged, but not discharged, having given Bail & entered into recognizance, to appear on a future day, I had made a requisition to Lord Hillsbro. to have access to see him as from you for the purpose of giving him Money for his Subsistence, the very ill state of Health under which Mr Laurens laboured with other Circumstances determined Administration to enlarge him—he is gone to Bath for a short Time. I had the pleasure to see him, he desired me to inform you that for the present he hoped to have no occasion to trouble you for Money as he coud have access to his own Funds—but he desired I wou’d request you to acquaint Congress the first opportunity you coud embrace of his Enlargement, tho he cannot be considered as yet as either exchanged or Released upon Parole— he desires likewise that you woud please to acquaint the young Lady at Vigonnes with the Circumstances of his Release—7 Mr Laurens when he left Town was very poorly & very lame— I believe his disorder was entirely the Gout—

I shall enclose you a State of the Acc’t with the Prisoners,8 they now are near 900 & however strange it may appear to you, I have not yet been able to procure a reply to the Memorial I presented on the 4th Decr relative to their exchange if they do not answer before Parliament meets, I shall endeavour to urge them to Action in some other way, but they are such a set, as God, in his Wrath, never before cursed a Country with— Talbot Manley and Hatch all went in the last Cartel—9 I am sorry to have to Call upon you for more Cash, from Plymo they have only a supply for this week, I shall Continue nevertheless to advance money for the weekly p[aymen]ts, not doubting but you will reimburse me, the paymts are now very near £50 per week so you know what supply will be necessary— Do you not think if you was to send me a Memorial from your Self to the Secretary of State on the Subject of the exchange of Prisoners that it woud bring the matter to an Issue, I think they woud not dare to treat that with Contemptuous Silence, for alltho they know well enough my Connection with you yet I shoud not wonder if pressed shou’d they rest their defence upon the Plea of not being informed of the Authority Under which I made the proposal— By the annexed acc’t you will see the Ballance in my hands on your acct the 31st Ultimo was £39..10— I am with great respect & Esteem Dr sr Yours Sincerely

William Hodgson

Addressed: To / Dr. Franklin / Passy

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5In fact, it was on Dec. 21 (above).

6“A——” must be William Alexander (see BF’s Dec. 15 letters to him and Hodgson) and “W. & Co.” must refer to his enemy Thomas Walpole of Walpole & Ellison, the French courts having just ruled in Alexander’s favor in their dispute: XXX, 579–80n; XXXV, 314n, 373n, 403n. Alexander’s arrest was mentioned in the postscript of Hartley’s letter of Jan. 2[–8], above.

7Laurens claimed that he had to go to Bath because he was fatigued by the number of those visiting him at this lodgings after his release: Laurens Papers, XV, 397–8. The young lady must be his elder daughter Martha, who was in correspondence with BF from Le Vigan.

8On a separate sheet dated Dec. 31, 1781, Hodgson listed his accounts with BF for the preceding year. He had received £960 15 s. in five installments (Feb. 5, May 1, July 20, Aug. 31, and Nov. 19) and spent £921 5 s. on prisoner relief, of which £475 was sent to Miles Saurey at Plymouth, £420 was sent to Thomas Wren at Portsmouth, £21 to the prisoner John Witherspoon, Jr. (XXXV, 48n, 439–40, 673), and £5 5 s. to a Mr. Heathcote at Deal. As of that date 482 prisoners still were at Plymouth and 365 at Portsmouth “& more expected from Ireland.” The £200 we previously thought that Grand sent Hodgson on April 18, 1781 (XXXIV, 507n) was not in fact sent until April 18, 1782: Account XXVII (XXXII, 4).

9For Talbot, Manley, and Hatch see Hodgson’s letter of Dec. 21.

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