Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from George Whitefield, 23 June 1747

From George Whitefield

ALS: American Philosophical Society

[Philadel]phia June 23. 1747

Dear Mr. Franklin

I thank You heartily for Your kind preamble to the Subscription.2 I only object against its being made publick so as to engage persons in America and Great Britain. I think such a procedure would betray somewhat of meaness of Spirit and of a confidence in Him who hitherto has never left me in extremity, since I think a private subscription among my Friends here and elsewhere would raise as much as I want.3 The publication of such a subscription would raise I believe more than is sufficient to pay my debts. I seek no such thing. If I can say I owe no man anything but love, I do not desire to save a groat, any more than will serve for a visible fund for the Orphan-house after my decease. [That?] institution I cannot give up. I know it would grieve thousands. Besides I am persuaded the New plantation in South Carolina will more than supply Bethesda with what (as it now subsists) it stands in need of. Need I add that there are several fatherless Children, [torn: whom I] look upon as my own who must then be turned out into a [torn] I cannot bring them to Pensylvania, because I [torn] to [torn] here; and if the Orphan-house should be given up [before?] my departure to my Native Country, America, in all probability, would see me no more. Whilst that stands, I shall have a visible call to visit these parts again. If this reasoning be not sound, let me be indulged in the Orphan-house since it is my darling, and a darling in which my own private interest cannot be concerned. Let it suffice to inform You that if I am helped out of my present embarrassments, I intend troubling no one for the Orphan-house any more. Excuse me from adding anything further. You know how generous minds work. I think it more blessed to give than to receive. But I submit to [torn] once tho’ Lord of all condescended to live [torn] alms. At the same I would be humbled for all im [torn] cies in his service, and committing all my concerns to [His] hands, I subscribe myself Dear Sir Your very affectionate Friend and Servant

G W.

Would it not be for a few Trusty Friends to [have?] Copies of the preamble and to agree to call upon such persons as they have most interest with? I depend on my Friends Readiness and dispatch. Bis dat qui cito dat.4

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2No copy of this subscription form has been found.

3The expenses of the Bethesda Orphan-House ran ahead of receipts, and by the winter of 1746–47, when there were 26 inmates, Whitefield was over £500 in debt. In January 1747 he raised £300 in Charleston, but used it to buy a plantation of 640 acres—60 of them cleared—complete with house, barn, outbuildings, and slaves; and the original indebtedness remained undischarged. Tyerman, Whitefield, II, 155–8, 169–70.

4He gives twice who gives promptly. BF had printed this in his almanac, March 1742.

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